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Running Time:
2 hours, 12 minutes

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for strong sexuality, nudity, and language

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Its beauty won't be enough to offset its narrative inertia.

Additional Info:
Brad Pitt ... Roland
Angelina Jolie ... Vanessa
Mélanie Laurent ... Lea
Melvil Poupaud ... François
Niels Arestrup ... Michel
Richard Bohringer ... Patrice
Sarah Naudi ... Grocery Clerk
Aldo Buontempo ... Fisherman
Philippe Martinet ... Maitre D'
Marika Green ... Dress Shop Saleswoman

By The Sea
This is the first time in ten years that Angelina Jolie-Pitt and Brad Pitt have starred together, since the 2005 film Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Jolie-Pitt is also the writer and director of the film.

Set in the 1970s on the gorgeous French Mediterranean coast, the story finds Roland (Brad Pitt) and Vanessa (Angelina Jolie-Pitt) driving along a cliff-side road to a restaurant-cum-bar run by a patient, generous widower named Michel (Niels Arestrup). They decide to stay in a nearby hotel, where Vanessa spends most of her time lounging about in designer outfits, only occasionally going for walks, and Roland most of his in Michel’s bar, trying to overcome a monumental case of writer’s block. The couple is obviously disconnected and morose, and though Roland tries to rouse his wife, a former dancer, back to life, it’s clear she’s endured some traumatic experience that’s left her emotionally desiccated.

There’s a plot turn when a young honeymooning couple, Francois (Melvil Poupaud) and Lea (Melanie Laurent) move into the suite adjacent to Roland and Vanessa’s in the hotel. There happens to be, inexplicably, a small hole in the wall that allows the older couple to peer into the other’s rooms and see what they’re up to. At the close the couple simply goes off again to nowhere in particular, with Roland having finished a manuscript titled “By the Sea”—which, if it’s the screenplay of this film, wasn’t worth all the Mediterranean melodramatics.

By The Sea looks lovely, with the magnificent locale captured in gorgeous widescreen images by Christian Berger, and Gabriel Yared’s yearning score has its moments. But apart from Niels Arestrup's alternately genial and pensive restaurateur, the cast fares poorly against the backgrounds. Of the stars, Brad Pitt certainly comes off better, exhibiting a glum intensity even if the character of an alcoholic writer is a walking cliché. (He even speaks passable French). By contrast Angelina Jolie-Pitt just offers a series of poses, letting her pursed lips do most of the acting. (She does look wonderful in Ellen Mirojnick’s costumes, though.)

The film just plods along on a succession of attractive images that have very little content. What we’re left with is a movie about a couple of beautiful, bored people. Its viewers may not be nearly as beautiful, but they’ll certainly be equally bored.

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