My Take On… #207: Did By The Sea Predict The Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie Split?


One of the biggest stories of the last few weeks was the divorce of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie after 12 years together. For many, it came as a shock but a lot of people may not remember the last movie they did together that came out just this last year, By The Sea…

Yeah, remember that movie? The movie that that both Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt starred in that came out last year? The one that was the second directorial effort for Jolie after Unbroken was such a big hit.

Don’t remember it? Well, there was probably a good reason for it. The movie had only 90 second trailers that showed nothing of the plot, the film opened really quietly on November 13, 2015 in only 10 theaters on its’ opening weekend, made only $96,000 on its’ first weekend and only making half a million dollars domestically total, it was thrashed by critics, was seen as a massive flop despite its’ miniscule $10 million budget, and took nine months to get an official DVD/Blu-Ray release.

So, yeah, nobody remembers this movie but we might be remembering it very soon as a piece of Hollywood history, did By The Sea predict the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie divorce?

Let’s take a look and find out:

Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa (Jolie), a former dancer, and her husband Roland (Pitt), an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner.

Yeah, that plot alone sounds like some boring Terrence Malick like arthouse film BS and…having actually watched this movie recently just before the split happened, I can honestly give you a proper review for this and let me tell you folks out there, this film is just as boring and bland as you’d expect it to be.

It’s bad, folks, it’s really, really bad. There is so much about this movie that fails on so many levels.

For one thing, its’ concept, the whole purpose of the movie is suppose to be an cinema-verte style arthouse feature like La Dolce Vita but here’s the problem, making a cinema-verte arthouse film today is extremely hard because most audiences today don’t like slow moving films because it will get boring quick unless something exciting or interesting happens, there is none of that in this movie. I’ll bring up an example of a modern day cinema-verte style movie that works, Eyes Wide Shut, one of my all-time favorite movies.

What makes Eyes Wide Shut work as a slow moving cinema-verte style film is that there’s intriguing storylines and interesting characters to follow, it takes a look at how you handle marriage when you have fantasies about sex with somebody else or when your significant other tells you about a fantasy they have about somebody else and it doesn’t sugarcoat the details, it gives you the flat out cold hard truth about how you can approach the situation without going overboard.

The questions of how to handle love, marriage, and the fantasies the main couple have are brought up in this movie and for the most part, are brought up well. It’s not afraid to step up the ante and let you think of both the logistical and unrealistic theories on each situation that happens in the film. It’s a movie that asks a lot of questions and lets you figure out what the answers to those questions might be, not giving a definitive answer in the process, it’s good when movies let you do that.

Both Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman work really well together, it’s one of the only few times in the history of film where working with your spouse doesn’t affect the film itself. When a couple who are dating or are married in real life work together in film, the results can be catastrophic but here, it works really well.

By The Sea has none of that and the film suffers because its’ concept and story doesn’t work.

Another thing that doesn’t work is the direction, Angelina Jolie shocked a lot of people when she made a great directorial effort the year prior to this with Unbroken, this serious drama that was directed very well and showcased the potential Jolie has as a director in the future. But none of that shit was in this movie, the whole movie is directed like a mix of a bad soap opera mixed with a bad perfume commercial.

The biggest problem By The Sea has is, and this shocked me the most, the lack of chemistry between Jolie and Pitt. Their characters in this movie have no chemistry at all and for a couple that has been together for over a decade to not show that chemistry on screen in a film that they are both starring in, that’s depressing. But again, that goes into the long talked about feeling in Hollywood about not never working with your spouse because 99 times out of 100, it never works out well. In fact, Box Office Mojo compiled a list of movies with people who were dating each other and how they did financially and the results were…meh to say the least.  The biggest success were the Twilight films, with the relationship being Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the far better Jolie Pitt collaboration, and There’s Something About Mary with Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillion, who were together at the time. Most of the time, films where people who are dating each other are involved don’t do well, films such as Proof Of Life with Russell Crowe & Meg Ryan, Cobra with Sylvester Stallone & Bridgette Nielsen, Dream House with Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz, do not do well at the box office at all.

So, who thought that By The Sea would be the film to buck that trend?

Really, folks, I’m not the one to fall for most conspiracy theories, I think many of them are bullshit like most people do BUT in the cast of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s split, By The Sea has enough evidence to convince me that this relationship was coming to an end.

This whole movie felt like Angelina Jolie’s cry for help to get her out of this relationship, the whole movie is basically watching Jolie and Pitt bickering and getting into many uncomfortable fights, it’s a soulless, heartless, and unpleasant mess of a film on so many levels. And it really does show that this film was the reason these two split for good, there is a lot of moments in this film that felt too real like there were problems in this film that Jolie wanted to get off her chest about her relationship and it shows, it’s one of the most uncomfortable, most unpleasant, and most heartwrenching mess of a film to watch and if By The Sea wasn’t the entire reason why this relationship ended, it played a huge part in it.

Want to find out for yourself, check out the film for yourself and you will see exactly my point. I get the strong feeling this will have a cult following now to see if this actually predicted the split ten months prior.

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