By Liz Lopez
If it is an action and a fast pace film you seek this weekend, By the Sea, Angelina Jolie Pitt’s third feature as director, is not one you may choose. Jolie Pitt also wrote and produced the film with her real life spouse, Brad Pitt, plus they have the leading roles as a vacationing couple who try to work through their marital problems. An American couple, Roland (Pitt) and Vanessa (Jolie Pitt), arrive in an awesome top-down convertible at a beautiful seaside village on the Maltese coast, stating, “I smell fish,” as she is sniffing. My initial thought was to call the character a five letter word, aside from stupid for not anticipating that scent considering she is standing on the edge of the sea.
Jolie Pitt definitely wrote an excellent scene from the start to portray just what kind of unhappy, miserable and pill addicted individual Vanessa is. Soon after, we see the writer’s block Roland is suffering from and how he resorts to alcohol morning, noon and night to escape the level of misery he finds himself in. No matter how cute Brad looks, even drunk and in his ugly boxers, nor the excellent cinematography by Oscar-nominated Christian Berger (The White Ribbon, original title Das weiße Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte), 132 minutes for this story is way too long. Vanessa is depressed for a reason not conveyed until almost the end and she wants to bring everyone else down to her level, succeeding with Roland and including the young couple in the suite next door, Lea (Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds) and Francois (Melvil Poupaud). Jolie Pitt manages to succeed in causing the viewer to severely dislike the character she portrays early in the film, so that few individuals will actually care what her reason is for being depressed. I can only say, take a chance on viewing it and decide if will love or hate the film, but don’t expect another Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005).
I definitely enjoyed the performances of the Pitts, but also the local bar owner, Michel (Niels Arestrup, War Horse, Sarah’s Key). Laurent and Poupaud gave excellent, convincing performances as a couple truly in love, so much so, that when Vanessa’s actions take a turn for the worse, it is heartbreaking.
By the Sea, a Jolie Pas production had its world premiere on November 5th as the opening film for the AFI Fest in Hollywood. It will be released by Universal Pictures on November 20th in Austin at AMC Barton Creek Square 14 and Regal Arbor 8 @ Great Hills. Check your local listings for show times.
Source: Universal Pictures