To be honest, if it was down to spending my hard-earned money, I wouldn’t have chosen to see this film. However, I went into it with an open mind – it was chosen for several film festivals after all. For those who don’t know, By The Sea is written and directed by Angelina Jolie, and both Angelina and Brad are the only two producers on this film (obviously financing it themselves) – so both the main actors had a lot invested in it. The premise is a couple from New York, struggling badly with their marriage, moving into a coastal town on the south of France (seemingly) in an effort to sort themselves out. The subplot is that Brad Pitt’s character is a writer with a major case of writer’s block. When the couple arrive at their destination in the first two minutes of the film, Jolie steps out of the car and proclaims,”I smell fish”. This was probably the high point of dialogue in this film.
Where on earth do I begin? The plot is horrendous. The film is slow moving. And boring. You so often hope for something to happen on screen to make you interested in what’s happening, but it never happens. There are even parts of the plot where you pray something happens, but then the story jumps ahead to the aftermath – you know it happened, but you never see it! The main characters have no redeeming qualities, and are so messed up they actually go out their way to inflict pain and misery on others. The direction is terrible; the acting is wooden.
Technically, there aren’t any decent parts to this film either. The sound is abysmal – conversations are held in whispers, and at distances, and then the sound is muffled as well. The whole film seems like it’s shot with a beige filter, even in the night time scenes, which doesn’t help with the ‘boring’ vibe of this film (The argument could be made that the ‘beige’ look is a metaphor of the blandness of the couple’s marriage, but given how bad the rest of the film is, you can’t even contemplate this at the time). And despite the film seemingly set on the south of France, it was actually entirely shot in Malta. However, this film isn’t even a good advertisement for Malta! The entire movie is filmed in a small fraction of a town (and it could be any town) and at a hotel and restaurant/bar set around a single rocky cove. It’s like Jolie and Pitt decided to live in the Mediterranean for a while on a whim, and then decided to make a movie while they were living there.
I cannot stress to you how horrible this film is! It’s one of the worst films I have ever seen! Several other people walked out of the film well before the end, and after the film was over, a group of youths in the row behind me sat there destroying it, saying how truly bad it was! (I’m glad it wasn’t just me!) Not even Angelina Jolie naked and a couple of voyeuristic sex scenes can save this self-absorbed, over-indulgent beige camel turd of a film!
Half a star (Yep, half a star out of 5!!)
Reviewed by David Emms