Film Review: By the Sea

Written by Tommy Tracy


I’m sort of at a loss of what to say. On one hand, I feel like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt should always be great in a film together and make us discuss which one of them should win an Oscar next year. On the other hand, By the Sea is so pointless that I don’t think anyone even knew it came out.

We follow Roland (Pitt) and Vanessa (Jolie), two self-loathing people who are trying to find a spark in their marriage again. They take a trip to France to find that spark and of course, that doesn’t work. These two have an array of problems that they refuse to talk to each other about and we refuse to care about. Roland always needs a drink and Vanessa is constantly popping pills and it nearly leads its viewer to reach for the closest bottle of alcohol.

The film cares so little about the characters, not letting you really understand them. I don’t think there have ever been less developed characters portrayed by such developed actors. The film even gives up on them and instead begins to focus on two newlyweds, Francois and Lea, who are staying next door. There’s a hole in the wall that our main “characters” look through, judging and poking fun. For what reason; God, who knows.

This film has so many problems because it has a two-hour run time and yet you don’t ever understand what is happening. What was the plot? I guess a married couple who hate each other want to hate each other more and hate others along the way. They want to act like Norman Bates as they watch two very nice people embark on their honeymoon. They want to be drunk and high. The sad thing is, the hole in the wall is a more interesting character than the four characters we’re supposed to care about.

Now, let’s get to this hole. How in the blue hell do Francois and Lea not also notice this hole? Sure, it’s not the most obvious part of the room but if your lights are off and your neighbors have theirs on, you’re going to notice. It’s such a small detail and yet it’s the biggest takeaway from this film.

I’ll give the film this; the cinematography and location are beautiful. Jolie (who directed this as well) has a real eye for a beautiful scene and it plays well. The journeys into the hole are also directed nicely with a nice editing trick that feels seamless. But I won’t give this film more than that. It’s boring, tedious and so pointless; I wanted to ask for my money back (and I never do that).

By the Sea Final Grade: 2.5/10