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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2015-6

By the Sea (2015) movie review

Life By a Quiet Sea

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In the mid-1970s a couple arrive at a Mediterranean hotel. They are clearly troubled.

The opening is pure Cary Grant and Grace Kelly driving along the roads of France in a convertible. A golden couple who head, not for a luxury resort, but instead to a quiet town and a quiet hotel.

They are stiff and mostly silent. They have the habits of the long-married, but the awkwardness of a couple whose marriage is cracking.

movie poster, By the Sea, Festivale film review; 220x349

Movie poster, By the Sea

We rapidly discover that he is a writer, Roland (Brad Pitt), who is spending his hours drinking, and she, Vanessa (Angelina Jolie), is spending her own hours wallowing in her unhappiness and in pills.

When a newly-wed couple arrives at the hotel, that couple's loud love making is in stark contrast to Vanessa's tortured rejections of Roland.

What is the pain too terrible to mention?

movie still, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in By the Sea, Festivale film review; 500x317

(L-R) Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in By the Sea
2015 © Universal Studios

Angelina Jolie wrote and directed (and produced) By the Sea. This is quite an effort and she has handled it better than some have.

This film, and particularly the writing, have been widely criticised. Some have claimed that subtext was spoken, instead of being left to reveal itself. However I wasn't offended, I didn't feel that my intelligence was insulted, and I certainly did not come from the film believing it wasn't 'stylish' enough.

There is an underlying truth in By the Sea. Grief and depression are quiet, lingering emotions. Huge outbursts are very dramatic in life and on screen, but for many loss is a pervasive emptiness that Jolie portrays very well.

It isn't drama as much as an essay in isolation. And on that level it's worth a look.

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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 26 Nov 2015
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: By the Sea (2015)
Written by: Angelina Jolie
Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Running time: 122 mins
Rating: MA15+

The Players: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent,

Official website: www.bytheseamovie.com.au
IMDb entry

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