By Catherine Maier
By the Sea was written, directed, and produced by Angelina Jolie. The film features her and her now ex-husband, Brad Pitt. The film is set in France in the 1970’s and is a dramatic story about an American couple who decide to get away. The husband, Roland, is there with the goal of writing a story and becomes close with the local café owner, where he usually goes each day to drink and write. Vanessa, his wife, is very withdrawn and is often alone. The plot starts to get more interesting when a couple moves into the room next to Vanessa and Roland, and Vanessa’s days are spent looking in on the relationship of the young and in-love couple next door. This odd and rather creepy spying aspect is what surprisingly brings Roland and Vanessa closer together as a couple and compels them to discuss some of their marital issues and what has separated them. As viewers, we learn the source for Vanessa’s deeply rooted grief and loss that she feels and how this is the reason for the behavior that we have seen throughout the film.
The film was unlike others I have seen in that at the time, Angelina and Brad Pitt were still married, and decided to film this movie on their honeymoon. It is very uncharacteristic of what a typical honeymoon would be; spending their days filming a rather hostile and negative film that gets at the issues faced in the marriage of the two characters. It was fascinating from a psychological standpoint to read about the context of the film, and how the stars of the film are no longer together.
Films often have a deeper meaning and purpose, and the ways in which Angelina as the writer of the film chose to disclose these nuances of a relationship was very effective. You could feel similar emotions that she and him were feeling throughout, and wanted to feel for the struggles and hardships that were going on. Film is often an obvious distortion of reality, but I think is what is often needed to deliver the intended message. The dramatic yet rather slow plot was effective in encompassing the emotional strain the relationship had on these two people.
The two screen captures and the article depict and explain the context as well as the dynamic between the couple throughout the film. In the first screen capture, we see the “peephole” that seemingly brings this couple closer together, while also showing the relationship and feelings that can be understood from their body positioning and facial expressions. In the second screen capture, I found it worthwhile to understand how it is that outsiders viewed their relationship, and how we as a viewer may connect to how the outsiders within the film looked in on their marriage.