Angelina Jolie Pitt, as apparently we must learn to call her, could hardly have invested

Angelina Jolie Pitt, as apparently we must learn to call her, could hardly have invested more of herself in this film.
It is the first feature she has written, directed and produced as well as starred in, and her leading man is her husband, Brad Pitt.
Not only that, but their characters’ surname, Bertrand, is also that of her late mother. Evidently, Jolie (sorry Angelina, but Jolie Pitt is too much of a mouthful) was moved by the death of her mum eight years ago to make a film about grief.
There are, of course, riveting films about grief. This isn’t one of them.
Angelina Julie
It’s a desperately dreary affair, a psycho-sexual drama that relies far too much on the curiosity value of the world’s most famous movie-star couple playing a husband and wife plunged into profound unhappiness by an event that remains unclear until the final act.
Jolie and a moustachioed Pitt are Vanessa and Roland Bertrand, strikingly attractive but glum New Yorkers who check into a shabby-chic hotel in the South of France, with baggage that amounts to a good deal more than a few pieces of Louis Vuitton. The period is never made entirely clear (it’s the Seventies). Nor do we find out how they both came to speak such decent French.
‘I smell fish,’ is the very first line of By The Sea, uttered by Vanessa, and quite soon after, so did I. The Jolie-Pitts have a home in France, and the film demonstrates, rather brazenly, the splendid effort they have made with the lingo.

Roland is a once-successful novelist, now grappling with writer’s block. Vanessa is a former dancer, struggling with emotional constipation.
While he props up the hotel bar late into the night, bonding with the patron (Niels Arestrup) and occasionally getting obnoxiously drunk, she sits around looking languidly but dolefully glamorous in a variety of wide-brimmed hats.
‘We could be happy, you know,’ says Roland, but there doesn’t seem much chance of that. Why? Did he have an affair? Did she? Are they mourning the death of a child? Has she learned that the Louis Vuitton is fake? By the time I found out I was past caring.
Things become marginally more interesting when an attractive honeymoon couple check into the room next door, and Vanessa finds a peephole enabling her to spy on them making love.
The implication is clear even before it is hammered home with a series of arty flashbacks; she’s not just looking at them, but also at her own past.

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