Film review: ‘By the Sea’

8 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Angelina Jolie Pitt and Brad Pitt dazzle at By the Sea kick-off for AFI Fest.

“By the Sea” is a very personal film for Angelina Jolie Pitt — and not just because it reunites her onscreen with her husband, Brad Pitt. In her acceptance speech, the 40-year-old filmmaker-actress rather than focusing on her own accomplishments, she honoured her late mother, actress and producer Marcheline Bertrand, in addition to her six children with Brad Pitt, reported E!Online. “When I was little, my mom used to say to me, ‘Let me see your soul.

The erotic thriller kicked of this year’s AFI Fest, arriving as Jolie Pitt’s third directorial outing and the first film to star the Golden Couple™ since 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. This is only the second time that Jolie, whose movies include “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) and “Maleficent” (2014), has starred alongside her husband. It’s a pity this lethargic Eurodrama is so woefully short on murder, even if flashes of overly obvious editing almost suggest something interesting might happen. Jolie Pitt says she wrote the film eight years ago, after her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died from cancer, and she opted to leave in her character’s topless scenes despite having had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction in 2013. “But then I decided that I would absolutely do it as written for that reason – because it’s important not to hide, and to let other women know that you can still have your breasts.

All children are… For me, in my art of films as a director or writer, I try to listen to my mother and bear my soul and to listen to my kids and make a mess and to play and be free,” Jolie said. Critics praised the cinematography as exquisite, but said the stunning visuals failed to make up for a weak script and a plot where nothing much happens.

But Variety’s Justin Chang called the movie “an unabashed vanity project” that is “meandering and overlong in ways that will test the patience of even die-hard Brangelina fans.” In the film, Pitt plays an alcoholic writer lacking inspiration, while Jolie is a depressed former dancer who still dresses up as if she were about to go on stage. The New York couple try to find some inspiration at a French seaside hotel, where meeting a newly-wed couple helps rekindle their love of life. “By the Sea” is the third feature film that Jolie has produced and directed, following the Bosnia war drama “In the Land of Blood and Honey” (2011) and “Unbroken” (2014), about a former Olympic athlete held at a Japanese prisoner camp during World War II. “Unbroken,” which got middling reviews and no major Oscar nominations, was a disappointment for Jolie. The characters’ fitful inactivity, their lounging around beautiful places doing not very much in exquisite wardrobes, is shot through with longing and ennui.

She and Pitt’s character, Roland, are moneyed American expats — a “failed novelist” and a professional dancer who retired when she became “too old” — who roam continental Europe in a luscious Citröen DS convertible with a portable typewriter and a trunk full of Louis Vuitton luggage. The NFL drama “Concussion” starring Will Smith and “The Big Short” — about the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s — are also debuting at the 29th AFI Fest, which runs through November 12. Washing up on the shoals of middle age, Roland goes through the motions of writing a novel to salvage his professional standing but mostly just rages against desperation with endless rounds of gin and beer at the local bar. Pitt and Jolie Pitt (as she’s credited) are Roland and Vanessa, married New Yorkers who arrive at a remote French-speaking Maltese island resort in a sporty convertible.

That’s because the couple shares an unspoken tragedy that lashes them together in passionless matrimony even while threatening to tear them apart at the seams. But their stasis is challenged by two discoveries: a small peephole allowing them to peer unnoticed into the adjoining hotel room and the arrival of hot-to-trot French newlyweds (Melanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud) who check in next door. Only this time, the actors relied on the strength of their real-life relationship to do it. “It’s really no different than trying to get the kids to bed at night,” Pitt said.” I mean, you know, it’s a tag team, Ultimate Wrestling kind of endeavor. Although some early reviews have been quick to write off By the Sea’s awards season chances, and the industry macher exiting the Chinese in front of me last night could be heard dismissing the movie as “a long slog,” I feel it succeeds on its own peculiar merits. Jolie Pitt effectively encases herself and Pitt in amber, forever committing their formidable beauty and undeniable onscreen chemistry to the time capsule of film.

Sparse on dialogue, the film hints ham-fistedly at Roland and Vanessa’s frosty relationship before the cracks in their strained relationship are made clear. So, I really trust her when she redirects a scene.” “You’re going to have a long life ahead of you and you’ve got to shake it up and, sometimes, it’s really wonderful to test yourselves, to push each other,” she said.

He’s also clearly running from Vanessa, his wife of 14 years and an ex-dancer who spends her days hiding in return from the world, draped dramatically across the furniture in their spacious apartment. That’s saying a lot for a film that stretches an eternity out of a slow zoom on a single tear on Jolie Pitt’s cheek as she sits on an empty bed, staring into the distance. When Vanessa finds a hidden hole in the wall and starts spying on the neighbors, her frigid world is finally rocked again by pangs of human emotion—curiosity, lust, envy, resentment.

And when Roland discovers her secret and starts joining in on the peeping, their shared voyeuristic hobby injects their marriage and the film with new energy as the amorous French remind the Americans how it’s done. But as they grow closer to the friendly couple, their secret game also leads to a sequence of events that triggers a cathartic, if deeply unsatisfying, confrontation and Jolie Pitt’s limitations as an auteur are laid bare. But while she directs her husband to a full bodied, bleeding heart performance as a man frustrated as a husband and an artist, she miscasts herself as the rigid yet broken Vanessa, straining with great effort for an elusive wide-eyed fragility she can’t quite find.

It’s a maddeningly regressive twist straight out of the very past that Jolie Pitt is trying to conjure and its causal implications are worth a more contemporary debate.

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