This is the first movie review of 2016! Interestingly, the first movie that I have reviewed last year was Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (which technically came out in 2014). This year, my first movie post will also be dedicated to a film, created by Jollie-Pitt – By The Sea (which also premiered at the end of 2015 in some places).
IMDb summary: Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner.
- By The Sea is Angelina’s 3rd feature/mainstream film. In 2007, she directed and produced a documentary A Place in Time and then moved on to narrative films in 2011 with In The Land Of Blood and Honey. That film dealt with a historical issue – Yugoslavian wars at the end of the last century. I applaud Jolie for casting local/foreign actors to play the roles of Eastern Europeans – this added a level of authenticity to the film. However, I did not understand why they had to speak English with their heavy accents if they knew the local language. I know that this was not a creative decision but a commercial one – English-speaking audiences inexplicably cannot read subtitles while the rest of the world somehow manages to do that or actually learn a different language. Speaking about the languages of By the Sea – I liked the fact that the French language was used in public and English in private. It looked like a realistic situation. As much as I enjoyed this film and Jolie’s directorial debut, Unbroken is still my favorite film of hers.
- By The Sea’s script was also written by Jolie. While the film was visually beautiful and stimulating, it’s narrative had a few problems. The film was really long, slow and even frustrating at times, because nothing really happened. The twist/secret was not that surprising and did not have enough shock value – I might not understand this as I am not a mother (and do not plan on becoming one in the near or far future) and never had a desire or a dream to become a mother – even as a child I would rarely play with dolls. In short, while these type of films are not my cup of tea, I can understand the appeal of their ideas (e.g. intimate story) and visuals.
- Jolie not only wrote and directed the film but also starred in it alongside her husband Brad Pitt. Their chemistry was as amazing as 10 years ago in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Both of them are without a doubt wonderful actors who portray emotional characters, like these ones, just impeccably. Their characters were a tiny bit creepy, though.
- The supporting cast included French actors and an actress: Melanie Laurent as Léa, Niels Arestrup as Michel, Melvil Poupaud as François and Richard Bohringer as Patrice. I (and the majority of Western audiences) are most familiar with Melanie Laurent – she has starred in films like Inglorious Basterds (she was incredible in that one) and Now You See Me.
- The opening of By The Sea reminded me of Iranian director’s A. Kiarostami’s film’s The Wind Will Carry Us opening sequence. The setting and some wide shots also evoked similarities to Italian director’s M.Antonioni’s L’Avventura (The Adventure).
To sum up, By The Sea was a unique film – it was a visual masterpiece with an intimate story. While it might not have been a movie that I would typically watch, I definitely would recommend it to the fans of this genre.
Trailer: By The Sea trailer