In 2007 superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie teamed up (in a movie sense and real life sense) for the box office smash Mr and Mrs Smith, the fun if highly forgettable Doug Liman actioner that would’ve spawned many a studio planning session on how and when they could team up the A list couple again for box office gold. It’s highly unlikely any in attendance of these sessions would’ve predicted that this film would’ve wound up being 2015 stinker By the Sea.
An at one time high profiled pairing of the Pitt double act and another chance for Jolie-Pitt to showcase to the world her talents behind the camera after the so-so effort on Unbroken, By the Sea seemingly had a fair chance of becoming one of those moderately successful financial art house dramas that gains attention during awards season but after a largely disastrous festival season towards the tail end of 2015 and an even more lukewarm cinema run from patrons and critics, By the Sea has sunk into the sea of movie obscurity rather quickly and it’s not hard to see why.
A lethargically paced examination of a marriage on the brink of collapse, Jolie-Pitt makes the rather detrimental call that her material is interesting enough to pad her film out at an often snooze-worthy pace that often finds us the audience stuck in either Brad Pitt’s Roland’s bar of choice or Jolie-Pitt’s depressed and void of charisma Vanessa’s hotel room lay arounds or peek hole watching sessions but with two cold characters inhabiting the domain of By the Sea, spending this time with the two is anything but enjoyable even though it was never supposed to be.
The two Pitt’s certainly share some form of on screen chemistry together but while Pitt try’s hard to make his writer Roland work it’s a largely thankless role that is hindered greatly by Jolie-Pitt’s poor attempt at depressed and lifeless and while the films locations look nice and the costumes dapper as you’d expect, By the Sea’s slow burn has its last chance of making a mark dashed with an end reveal that is neither shocking enough or well delivered enough to make it all work out in the end.
It’s arguable that somewhere within By the Sea there’s a decent film but Jolie-Pitt’s version isn’t it and while these two fine actors have their fair share of quality films, By the Sea ranks amongst some of their most forgettable and misguided works and places a further question mark on the already questionable career Jolie-Pitt has behind the camera.