By the Sea


Drama / Romance

By the Sea (2015) download yts


Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 33%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 37%
IMDb Rating 5.2 10 6119  


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Brad Pitt as Roland
Angelina Jolie as Vanessa
Melvil Poupaud as François

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Steve Pulaski 8 / 10

Jolie Pitt makes a statement on marriage in a way only few were destined to appreciate

Brooding, aimlessly wandering through city streets, laying in bed, smoking, and sulking would be much more enjoyable activities if we could all look as beautiful as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt do some variation of the five for nearly two hours in their latest film By the Sea. Upon initially seeing the trailer, which featured little else other than the beautiful location of Mġarr ix-Xini, a bay on the island of Gozo, serving as the backdrop for Brad and Angelina as they slum around a beautiful place looking like they just came out of a makeup chair, I was about as skeptical as could be about the level of sustenance in this film. Because of this, it's surprising to note that this is a film that, in spite of itself, does a nice job at posing a commentary on relationships and marriage despite not using a great deal of dialog or events.

Set in 1970's France, the minimalist story revolves around Roland and Vanessa (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt), a married couple of fourteen years who are experiencing a rough patch in their relationship. One can immediately tell the rough patch stems from their inability to talk about anything, with his vice being the local tavern where he'll go to write, but instead, drink the day away, and her lethargy and unwillingness to get out of bed every day being her way of coping. The two make a cozy hotel their home, as Roland writes and gets to know the bartender Michel (Niels Arestrup), who has just lost his wife, while Vanessa enjoys peering into the hotelroom adjacent to theirs via a small hole in their wall, closed off by a wad of paper. Vanessa spends her days sipping wine, squirming on her balcony, or watching the young couple of Léa and François (Mélanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud) have sex through the hall.

Roland and Vanessa have a relationship predicated upon arguing, ignoring, and moderate amounts of spousal abuse before Roland discovers the hole in the wall and his wife's hobby. When he does, the two use the time to drink, eat, and enjoy the view of their young neighbors together. Their attraction to Léa and François isn't something that's too out of the blue; the young couple are in their late twenties, which many consider to be the best years of a person's life because they can inconsequentially try new things and embark on new experiences without having to make a variety of exceptions. With that, Léa and François also still appear to be in love, willing to talk and do pretty much anything together, be it spontaneously go out to dinner or have sex without any kind of reservation. This leads to the subtle assertion on Roland and Vanessa's behalf that perhaps they have overcomplicated their own marriage, or they even have fallen out of love with one another.

Through the pervasive bouts of staring, drinking, smoking, and wandering in By the Sea are some seriously tender moments of realizations, and this comes in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt's ability to convey emotion through their facial expressions and mannerisms instead of Jolie Pitt replicating such emotions in a way that would embellish their significance. Whether we see Roland act like a hopeless drunk and make a complete buffoon out of himself in front of Michel, his new friend, or we watch Vanessa fight and throw a tantrum when her husband innocently visits her in the shower, we get bold representations of mood through these scenes thanks to the understated power of the real-life couple's acting abilities.

The fundamental flaw with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt acting in a film together, let alone the two producing it and Jolie Pitt writing and directing it, is that the film will be examined in two ways: a testament to the couple's real life relationship, which ultimately gives it the impression of a vanity project, or it will be seen as two high-profile tabloid figures that audiences have a hard time convincing themselves their characters on screen aren't the same ones who still, to this day, glitz tabloid covers in grocery stores. The hard part is By the Sea is so minimalist in its style, so slight in its narrative and character development, that those who aren't known to appreciate aesthetic and craft in a film, especially in the way the film adheres to the visual conventions (not so much technical or aesthetic) of French New Wave, aren't likely to tolerate this film's two hour runtime and liberal narrative. This is a film that boasts a reward that comes with contemplation hours after you've seen it.

By the Sea, though it hinges ever-so delicately on the realm of self-parody thanks to its excessive brooding, mopey character behavior, and the characters constantly looking attractive despite operating in a disheveled state of defeat, is also a sad film that mixes ideas of marital disconnect, kinkiness, voyeurism, and marital stability in long-term relationships in a fascinating way. Its examination of relationships - by juxtaposing a young, idealistic couple with an aging and distant one - paints a striking portrait of an ugly marriage against a backdrop of beauty, adding layers to a film that would look wonderful on a post-card. To conclude on a bizarre comparison, Jolie Pitt's intention of how to paint marriage reminds me of how director and photographer Larry Clark chose to paint the suburbs of America in the 1950's - as beautiful, precise landscapes that housed dysfunction. The same can be said for Jolie Pitt's examination of marriage.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud, and Niels Arestrup. Directed by: Angelina Jolie Pitt.

Reviewed by ferdinand1932 2 / 10

Turgid and borrowed

The notes of Chopin's Prelude in E Minor at the end neatly summarizes this stale, borrowed and unoriginal film. That prelude is so over used as to be a calling card of sophomore sensibility. Then again, it fits perfectly within the overdone story: the Midi of France, of exile and difference, of finding some true self in a marriage, and of the libido and voyeurism.

The dramatic conceit - if it has one - is owed in part to Godard's "Contempt": the hat that Pitt wears is like Piccoli's in the 1963 film; a struggling writer too, together with the marriage that suffers from some tacit fault line which only the wife knows and can cure.

In "Contempt" it had another cause, in this project it is some delusion which has struck the writer in the vain belief that she can write, and consequently serve a thread of scenes which can be presented as a film.

The first half is turgid and requires some intrigue to hold attention, but instead the audience has the face of Jolie pouting behind huge sunglasses and a Bardot-style brimmed hat with the sulking expression of a 3 year old. Pitt takes over in this portion of the film and drinks heavily and mumbles French. Going to the bar is preferable to the hotel and his wife.

In the second hour the movie wakes up but seems entangled, for no other reason, in a "menage a quatre", to give it some plot and direction. It falls apart quickly though because the writing is inane. Locations, sun and sea, and some unshaven locals fill in the running time, but to be realistic, it hasn't fulfilled anything and it's been pointless.

Then Chopin's prelude is added to the closing images and we comprehend the full mediocrity of the vision.

Reviewed by Dave McClain 2 / 10

"By the Sea" should've stayed there.

What do you do when you're a Hollywood power couple? You get your passion projects made into films. (You might even choose to write and direct them yourself!) And when you're a beautiful Hollywood power couple? You cast yourselves. (It's a cinematic portrait to remind you when you're old of how good you used to look!) And when you're a beautiful Hollywood power couple who's getting married in the same region where the film you wrote takes place? Well, you make the movie on your honeymoon. (As the French say in accented English, "but of course!") This is how "By the Sea" (R, 2:02) got made.

This movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt – the first film in which she has been so credited and the first time the two have appeared on screen together since Jennifer Aniston's least favorite film, 2005's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith", during which the aforementioned couple of stars first became a star couple. As in their previous on-screen pairing, they are in a marriage with serious issues. This time their characters are not trying to kill each other… even though it often seems that they want to. Both of these characters are joyless, self-loathing, rude and selfish. There are reasons for some of this, but the main reason is treated in the film as a dramatic reveal, rather than used to greater effect throughout the film.

The movie takes place on the French island of Corsica in the mid-1970s, where the couple is living temporarily in an up-scale hotel overlooking the water. Pitt plays Roland, the writer of a well-received first novel. He's trying to recapture his mojo, but ends up spending most of his time holding a drink. Jolie Pitt plays Roland's wife Vanessa, who is even more sullen than Roland and basically does nothing but sit around hating her life and trying to decide if she hates her husband. Roland spends his days away from their room drinking, trying to write something and talking with the owner of the hotel's restaurant, Michel (Niels Arestrup). Michel is kind and wise, not that it benefits the self-centered Roland much.

Vanessa spends most of her time in a room with no television, so she gets her entertainment by watching through a hole in the wall as their young married neighbors (Mélanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud) enjoy their honeymoon. Roland and Vanessa both become friends with the couple, because, you know, there's nothing better for a failing marriage than peeping on a sexy young couple who have what you wish you still had and then spending time with them, in various fate-tempting combinations.

This film does tell an honest and revealing story of the dynamics of a marriage in trouble (and hints at how such a marriage might be repaired), but most of the plot is very predictable. The genuinely interesting moments are few and far between, with its slow pace making us feel that the movie is dragging us to those moments. But, hey, at least the Mediterranean scenery is nice to look at.

"By the Sea" basically amounts to a very expensive cinematic photo session for two beautiful Hollywood stars – and we get to pay to be voyeurs! Pitt and Jolie Pitt are both undeniably easy on the eyes, as are Laurent and Poupaud, all of whom we see in varying degrees of nudity (especially the women). There's also no denying that the Pitts are both very talented actors. Their acting chops are on full display in this story, but that doesn't keep the movie from coming off feeling self-indulgent. It doesn't help that the characters Jolie Pitt has written are almost completely unlikeable (even Pitt's character remarking matter-of-factly that his wife is not a good person and that they're both "a**holes"). The script's big reveal is anti-climactic and directed melodramatically, like much of the film. This is a sometimes-interesting, beautifully-filmed movie whose success depends mainly on the appeal of its two big stars. But in this film, they're not very appealing. This is a passion project lacking in passion. "By the Sea"… should've stayed there. How do I grade such a movie as "By the Sea"? WITH a C… minus. But of course!

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