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. —Production
In my weekly guide, based on public and critics’ responses to BY THE SEA, I recommended not seeing this movie. In my opinion, after seeing this movie, I think the majority are wrong. I liked BY THE SEA a lot. It won’t necessarily be appealing to everyone. But this new movie by Angelina Jolie Pitt, who wrote and directed it, is an interesting direction in her career. Acting alongside of her husband, Brad Pitt, the story is a complex exploration of love, sexual desire, female identity, grief, voyeurism, and more. It has a European feel in style and, while it moves along at a pretty languid pace, I felt fully engaged the whole time. Jolie Pitt takes some significant risks, particularly in acting the nude scenes following her double mastectomy. She has openly acknowledged that she felt anxious about doing the scenes. The acting by her and Brad Pitt is excellent. Mélanie Laurent is particularly good as the newly-wed wife in the next apartment. The cinematography is beautiful with stunning long shots of the landscape; then becoming intimate as it focuses in on the conversations and relationships of the characters. This movie is more about the internal landscapes of relationships and, for that reason, may be too slow and languid for some. But, for me, it was a powerful story and I look forward to Angelina Jolie Pitt’s next project.