Angelina Jolie, or as she now wishes to be known, Angelina Jolie Pitt returns to the directors chair for the third time in 4 years with ‘By The Sea’. Whilst I haven’t seen her first effort, ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’ I did see her directorial effort from last year, ‘Unbroken’. I was a big fan of her work here so was looking forward to her latest project especially as it saw her once more acting with her real life husband, Brad Pitt. 10 years on from ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’ could the Pitt’s still conjure up that brilliant on screen chemistry?
Well firstly it has to be said that ‘By The Sea’ looks wonderful. The cinematography is most definitely the best thing about this film. The film is set in 1970s France and the setting, obviously by the sea, provided the potential to make a gorgeous film which thankfully has been fully taken advantage of by the director and cinematographer, Christian Berger. The film has such a wonderful look to it and reminded me a lot of a film from last year called ‘The Two Faces of January’ as it too had such a wonderful European 20th century feel to it. Combined with the beautiful look to the film was some nice editing too as the transition between scenes was very good creating a seamless flow to the events of the film. However it is the narrative that lets this film down slightly. The film does deal with its themes well however the writing here just doesn’t stand up to the two hour running time of the film. What it does it does well however it needed some other elements to become a more accomplished film.
This is the kind of film that I should have been bored in as in all honesty not a lot happens, however I wasn’t bored for one second. I think this was due to the editing which I have already mentioned and the fact that no scene seemed that long. There were several ways that scenes were shortened or cut which kept the pace of the film surprisingly quick for such a subdued narrative. Of course the performances of Pitt and Jolie are very good and it would take artists of such caliber to keep the film from getting lost in it’s writing. The off screen relationship of the couple actually really helped with the on screen chemistry and believability of the story too. The supporting roles are filled well with several other European actors and actresses, most notably being Melanie Laurent of ‘Inglorious Basterds’ fame. However never does any role allow these actors to detract attention from the main characters Pitt and Jolie play.
‘By The Sea’ has impressed me and convinced me further of Jolie’s potential as a director however her writing needs to match this level, as of now for feature film length it doesn’t cut it. The narrative we see here could have worked much better as a short film but nonetheless with good performances and a gorgeous appearance ‘By The Sea’ manages to avoid the label of ‘style over substance’ but does earn my label of; style which could do with a little more substance.
Rating – 7/10