Monday, May 15, 2017

By the Sea

Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt
Melanie Laurent, Niels Arestrup

"When we Die on the inside,
the Outside is left wandering
dangerously By The Sea"

Set in the 1970s, this film is a glimpse into the troubled marriage of Roland (Brad Pitt) and Vanessa (Angelina Jolie). He is a struggling writer and she was a former dancer.  They settle into a hotel in some rustic French town so Roland can find some, any inspiration to finish his novel. The quiet yet picturesque coastal town bare silent witness to the cracks in their union. 

Both of them trapped yet also stubborn to open the line of communication to solve their problem. Vanessa gets lost with her booze and her cigarettes, preferring to stay in the room and further isolating herself. While Roland has developed writer's block, spends most of his time in the local bar drinking and chatting with Michel, the wise owner, wallowing in self pity as his wife shuts him out in every sense of the word.

The main source of their doldrums is revealed through brief flashes/scenes which alludes to some tragic incident that deeply scarred both of them. During their stay in the hotel, they do find a common 'hobby' which is creepy and invasive yet strangely it bonds them together. So it offers a distant glimmer of hope that their strained relationship can still be saved and not really beyond repair.

The scenic visuals of the seaside town consisting mostly of sepia toned images, the chic 1970s fashionable wardrobe of Vanessa, the thought provoking conversations between Roland and Michel (the bar owner) - all provide a good backdrop to the narrative. 

"By the Sea" unfolds at a slow pace which is reminiscent of a typical art-house European movie. The kind of film that relies heavily on the acting skills of its stars, long drawn out scenes with minimal dialogue yet evoke quite an impact, the sort that will tug at your inner core.  

This Jolie directed film though falls a bit short in that department because it got lost somewhere in the middle, and only picked up towards the end just when you feel a tinge of warmth towards Roland and Vanessa and finally grasp why their married relationship is like the loose end of a tethering rope. 

Frankly, it was painful to watch the anatomy of a failing marriage and certainly not an appropriate film to end the day with .. this being our 9th wedding anniversary. Heh!

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