By The Sea - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

By The Sea Reviews

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½ December 19, 2018
Half an hour into By the Sea, I began to get the sinking feeling the movie was actually slowing down - and that was after a slow start. I'm not being mean, I'm serious. The movie started slow, then slowed to such a crawl that I almost expected the movie to come to a dead stop. Truth be told, this movie is so dusty and dull that I was almost certain that's what was happening.

There's a sense of anticipation in every film, even the slowest of art films, in which I wait for the spark that will ignite the plot so we can get going. In the case of By the Sea, it took about an hour before I began the piece together the movie's actual purpose, and worse was the fact that it was going to be another hour before anything meaningful was going to happen.

This is an experience that I should have anticipated. By the Sea is already generating some infamy. It opened in mid-November to a weekend box office gross that didn't even top $100,000 and then took a beating from many of the critics that was equal to what Apollo Creed got from Ivan Drago. Is it worth that kind of negativity? Well . . . yes.

If By the Sea were just any other movie with a no-name cast, I probably could have dismissed it and moved on. But here are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, two beautiful people, a married couple in real life playing a married couple on screen. With that, we might expect a bit of autobiography especially since she wrote and directed the movie and they both had a hand in producing. Is it autobiographical? Lord, I hope not. I refuse to believe that these two engaging people are this dull and lifeless.

Let's start from the beginning. Somewhere in the mid-70s, Vanessa and Roland are an unhappy couple who have been enduring a loveless marriage that is now trudging into its 14th year. We can imagine that, long ago, there was a spark in their marriage that kept them together. What burned that spark out is something that we have to wait two hours to figure out.

Apparently thinking that a vacation will cure their ills they drive up to a remote French town for a stay at a hotel with a view of the Mediterranean that is breathtaking. The point, I think, is for Roland to get some writing done and for the couple to clear their heads about what is bothering them. In their room, he moves the table next to the window and sets up a typewriter then spends the rest of the movie either sleeping or chugging booze in the bar downstairs. Apparently Roland is one of those writers who spends more time telling people that he's a writer then actually writing.

Vanessa, on the other hand, does little to nothing. She sits, she broods, she walks around in big floppy hats, she looks longingly at the sea, and she's rude to other people. Something's going on her mind, something so severe that at one point she goes down to the sea and contemplates suicide. Back in the room, her only real point of interest - when she isn't fussing at Roland for drinking too much - is peeking through a hole in the wall and watching the newlyweds in the room next door.

Those are the points of interest. In between - padding a 122 minute running time - are scenes of Jolie staring at the walls or standing on the balcony staring at the Mediterranean with all the life and energy of a house cat settling in for a nap. Meanwhile he spends time talking to a friendly bartender about marriage and women - actually he has a better connection with this man then he does with his wife.

Occasionally, Vanessa and Roland spend time together but it's in an effort to avoid what ails them. Something troubling is brewing in their marriage that they won't talk about and it dawns on us that this particular problem is going to become the film's emotional climax. What is revealed is something that should have been dealt with at least a half an hour into the movie so that we didn't have to spend a long boring hour looking at people looking at things. These two beautiful nitwits spend empty hours hating each other. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Recently, I revisited Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, another story of a couple dealing with disconnection. But that story hashed out their problems in the first half hour so we have time to deal with that is driving them apart. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman talked about their problem. This story uses the problem as a carrot on a stick that we wait two boring hours to get around to.

It becomes obvious early on that whatever prompted Pitt and Jolie to make this movie is probably more interesting to them then it is to us. The story is as dull as dishwater, and that's all the more frustrating because we know how spirited and engaging these two are. By the Sea is a struggle to sit through. It is less a story then a test of your patience. How long can you endure pretty pictures? How long can you endure two of the most likable actors being miserable? They're not engaging here. These two actors became movie stars because of their personalities. They've created Vanessa and Roland, two people who deserve each other, but what did we do to deserve them?
½ December 7, 2018
I first watched this movie after the breakup of the marriage of the two leads out of curiosity. I remember hearing them say when they were promoting the movie that the couple in the movie's issues are not their personal issues. So I was surprised at the scene when Angelina basically calls Brad Pitt a worthless drunk and she is angry and can't forgive him. Also Angelina's character struggles with depression, didn't Angelina admit to struggling with depression in real life? The movie started to feel like a tell all and I felt disgusting for watching it, on top of feeling disgusted by the sexual perversion of the characters in the story. This movie was disturbing. I am a fan of Angelina's and hearing that she wrote and directed this movie I was hoping that it would reveal a brilliant mind, but the story, the dialog, the acting, it was a disappointment.
½ October 21, 2018
Painfully pretentious and boring romance that tries to imitate an art-film, but fails miserably.
½ September 17, 2018
all the bickering and jealousy..

By The Sea

By The Sea is a character driven romantic drama about a couple whose honeymoon goes haywire after jealousy and treachery gets in between them.

The chemistry fuels this overridden drama to reach newer territories without fumbling where the audience wouldn't mind taking a ride along with them, no matter how annoying the couple grows with all the bickering and jealousy. But, even as strong as chemistry like such could never replace the substance over style. And the primary reason why the feature is stuck on a dull loop, is because of the genre of the premise.

It requires the weaving of the structure in front of the audience and it is such poorly written with no bars held, that emotions set out were so not what the emotions come out. The narration is dry with probably somewhat gripping screenplay that too wears out latter, as the policies grows pretentious, the gist loud and the emotions shallow.

The background score may as well be non existent on terms of its factoring, the cinematography is redundant along with poor editing and on the up side it has stunning visuals, live locations and is beautifully shot. Pitt is more "Mr. And Mrs. Smith"-y than when he was in it, whilst Jolie is milking way too much to keep the crisp alive. The talent that actually goes waste by is Laurent that is convincing on her supporting role.

Jolie's execution has definitely improved a lot, but the script is the actual culprit in here that holds the ideology narrower and keeps it intact of its self-created pathos scrutiny. The chemistry among the lead cast, few one liners and visual aesthetics are the only high points of the feature.

By The Sea is a bore; I'll just say it straight out, it is a bore to a point where even the somewhat visible craft isn't appreciative.
August 20, 2018
Worst movie I have seen in ten years. Painful to watch. Best part of the movie was the end.
½ July 24, 2018
Most boring movie I've ever seen. 2h of my life I'm never gonna get back.
½ May 8, 2018
A long, drawn-out movie with labored dialogue and plot.
April 29, 2018
Beautiful location but fell short on everything else. The voyeurism angle had potential, but no ideas were adequately developed due to the amateurish script, drawn out repetitive scenes and vacant characters.
April 21, 2018
Comme une longue et douleureuse colonoscopie
April 10, 2018
Long, slow movie. Had to break it up to several parts to watch it. But when I finally did get through, the story does convey elements of melancholy and deep sadness.
½ February 16, 2018
Beuh, lots of cigarettes. The film is slow going. We are left to think what makes these two in such bad mood. I was thinking they killed a kid but it was sort of the contrary. The woman, not too bright, follows her dark path for a solution. Lucky the man stopped her. This film seemed familiar to me, like a remake. I recall a woman getting a married guy easily. Not sure it flies in real life, unless they are psychopaths of course. People were that crazy in the 70s.
January 19, 2018
I generally love movies by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. However this was disturbing and boring simultaneously. The French actors were decent, but the story was simply weird and creepy- and literally nothing happened of interest.
½ September 4, 2017
While it didn't leave me with much to chew on, I appreciated the cinematography and production design, along with the very smooth editing. A sold piece of filmmaking that just lacked a compelling story or emotional connection with the characters.
June 3, 2017
Seriously no depth to the plot completely and utterly bored with it. Don't waste your time.
May 6, 2017
Beauty. Angelina Jolie did a really great and splendid movie! People should value women that direct movies, because she really came out great! It deserves and Oscar! The best performance of Angelina!
April 15, 2017
How do you say flaming pile of horse shit in French? This is the worst attempt at a movie I have ever seen. I guess these two used this project as a way to get a free vacation in France for their 800 kids. Why is it the other couple who they are spying on cannot see the hole or hear them as they can them. Minor details which I guess in the big scheme of brilliant filmmakers is trivial. If you added up the two hours wasted watching this and multiples by the number of people who saw this imagine the number of lifetimes wasted!!!! Mine included! I hate you brad and Angelina...jen too
½ February 18, 2017
"By The Sea" features beautiful cinematography and the scenery is amazing to look at. Angelina Jolie directs the film with such visual flair and gives a strong acting performance, and so does her co-star Brad Pitt. On its flaws, though, the film suffers from a sluggish pace and a stilted narrative that leaves certain plot holes.
February 5, 2017
By the Sea is a drama starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie , very different from their debut performance together in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. While slow paced there is some very interesting content. Not for kids.

By the Sea is dealing with a complex relationship, and it takes time to figure out what the problem is. We see the wife Vanessa, played by Angelina Jolie, lying around listlessly (but in carefully applied makeup and fixed hair) in a state of depression by the beautiful seaside. Her husband Roland, played by Brad Pitt, is a writer having serious writer's block. One of the details I had forgotten is that they are both trying to numb their pain. Her with pills and him with alcohol. Their hurtful comments to each other and not getting along was kind of a bummer, but...

Vanessa discovers a peephole in the wall and begins to watch the newlywed neighbor couple next door having their newlywed sex life. OMG! She is so bad! After a while, Roland discovers how she is entertaining herself while he's gone. He decides to join her in watching. The turnon of watching their unsuspecting neighbors together seems to be cathartic. I didn't see this coming because they didn't seem like that sort of people (who watch other people).

By the Sea features a beautiful seaside vacation spot with nice views and some friendly French locals (set on the French seashore), but I don't think By the Sea is quite the right title for this. Voyeur Vacationers is what they should have called it.
January 27, 2017
somehow I liked it, even that it could be boring sometimes but in my opinion I think it was Angelina Jolie's best performance yet, while it's one of good Pitt roles, location was amazing as well
January 25, 2017
The painstaking sluggish pace along with a disturbing lack of events drove me insane with boredom. By The Sea is the worst film in the careers of both Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The misery in their onscreen marriage must have reflected their personal one as they acted their roles with efficiency and ended up actually divorcing soon after. It's a shame Hollywood's favorite couple broke up and it's a crime this movie was made.
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