For the first time in ten years, since they first met and fell in love filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are starring in By the Sea. Written and directed by Jolie, By the Sea follows the crumbling marriage of Roland, a writer, and Vanessa, a retired dancer, as they escape to a seaside resort in France. But even there, a picture-perfect romantic place, Roland goes down to the restaurant and drinks at the bar all day as he tries to find inspiration to write while Vanessa is left in the hotel room to pop pills and smoke her day away on the balcony.
Filled with drama and emotion, here are four simple reasons to see By the Sea.
1. The Story
The film is mainly about Roland and Vanessa, but it also intertwines the lives of a newlywed French couple on their honeymoon, and the old innkeeper who lost his wife. Roland and Vanessa's relationship is in shambles due to a reason that is undisclosed until the end of the film. The main characters get in the habit of watching the honeymooners, Francois and Lea, interact and make love in the room next door through a peephole in the wall. When they're watching, you catch glimpses of what their life used to be like.
The newlyweds and the innkeeper are both juxtapositions of Roland and Vanessa. Francois and Lea remind them of what they used to be because of how in love they are and how they enjoy spending time together. It is suggested that the two had an almost Hollywood romance and were two beautiful people who were crazy about each other. This is why they are so fascinated with watching the younger couple, because they have no care in the world besides the other. The innkeeper, Michel, has lost his wife and he misses her terribly every day. Throughout the film, it is obvious that Roland is the one fighting for their marriage so when he goes down to the bar to talk to Michel, both of them miss their wives in similar ways even though one is dead and one is alive. The demons that Vanessa is facing are taking the life out of her. Roland finds comfort in Michel even though, at times, he is resentful that he can't figure out how to make his own wife feel better and like her old self again.
Watching to see whether or not they are able to find what they have lost is interesting; at some points you want them to figure it out, while in others you think it would be better for them to go their separate ways.
2. The Cinematography
The most noticeable part of the film was the stunning cinematography. Every shot was beautiful and it helped that the location was gorgeous in and of itself. There was the resonating feel of history that was engrained in the little town by the sea. The money of the visitors and the family ties of the people who lived at the resort as a home were also evident.
Lighting and color each played a big role in the film. With lighting, a lot of time it was bright in the outside and at the bar and in the living area in the room. It got dark in the bedroom and when they would sit and watch the French couple through the peephole. When they were separated, there was natural light. It was much darker when they were together. The clothes that they wore were either whites or blacks with very little variations. Lea, the honeymooner, always wore white. She shined innocence and happiness because there had been no troubles in her marriage, still in the fairytale stage. But toward the end, after the climax, she wears a black hat reflecting the first problem to happen in her budding marriage.
3. The Symbolism
While somewhat obvious, there were two clear symbols in the film that stuck out. The first was the sunglasses. Vanessa always set her sunglasses facedown on the table after she took them off. Roland would come in second and always flip them over. This happened repeatedly throughout the first half of the film. The simple movement of the glasses showed how dedicated Roland was to his wife even though she was shutting him out. He never stopped loving her and continued to fight for her through her darkest moments.
The other was the fisherman that went out in his boat every morning and came back every night. Representing the routine that Roland and Vanessa have fallen into, the boat goes out and rarely catches that much fish. Just like their everyday routine. They wake up and their relationship stays in the same spot it has been. Vanessa even mentions the boat once in the film, pointing out its daily repetition. But it also shows perseverance and when she realizes that, she realizes how much Roland has put into her. Giving her the epiphany that he cares deeply and she has just not been herself enough to see it.
4. The Cast
It's Brad and Angelina! Watching them together is like getting a peek into what their life is like with one another. Though it's a fictional story, the way that they interact is so effortless and makes the story seem real because of their glaringly obvious chemistry. And though half the time Jolie has mascara smeared all over, she still manages to look beautiful in her distress. I think that it was a good decision for her to cast Pitt as her onscreen husband as well; the script was very personal to her and I think that audiences will appreciate it more in such an intimate setting and cast. The relatively private couple is still the most well-known celebrity couple in today's world. Brangelina has been reigning as Hollywood royalty for years now and the film would have had a completely different feel to it if she had been performing alongside another actor. It gave the film a true, genuine rawness. It seemed like they were putting their whole relationship out there for the world to see, which is so exclusive, so real—something you don't see in many films coming out these days.
While some parts were slow, it was actually necessary for the development of the characters and the suspense leading up to the revelation of where their problems stem from. Everyone should see this film if they are, or have been, in a longterm relationship. Not to scare yourself, but to open your eyes to what can happen and to make you reassess the love you have for the person you are spending, or wanting to spend, the rest of your life with.
'By the Sea' opens in theaters November 13th, 2016!