Angelina Jolie Pitt’s ‘By the Sea’ Aiming at Art, Not Oscar

By the Sea trailer
Courtesy of Universal

Angelina Jolie Pitt’s “By the Sea” is a heartfelt, physically beautiful film which proves that “slow-moving” can be a positive, not a negative. But it’s dubious whether all the film’s quiet virtues can translate into year-end awards.

For better or worse, any movie that opens in the fourth quarter, or that is booked during a major film festival, gets scrutiny for its Academy Awards potential. But “By the Sea” seems the opposite of “Oscar bait.” Jolie Pitt wrote, directed, produced (with Brad Pitt) and stars in a tale about a couple on vacation who are going through a difficult period, as one of the onscreen characters observes.

The movie had its world premiere Nov. 5, opening the AFI Fest in Hollywood. According to the program, “The film is inspired by European cinema and theatre of the 1960s and 1970s.” In introductory remarks at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Jolie Pitt said it’s about grief and learning to move past it. Clearly, a project like this is not an easy sell, and the thoughtful pacing (which spotlights little moments and details, often with minimal dialogue) seems a deliberate antidote to the current fashion of fast-paced films.

After the premiere, one partygoer said, “Good for her, she got this movie made.” Yes, absolutely good for her. But awards voters may feel that’s reward enough.

People will love or hate the film, but it does exactly what it set out to do. All the work is commendable, including the performances by the two leads, cinematography by Christian Berger, costume design by Ellen Mirojnick and music by Gabriel Yared. The film will be released by Universal this month.

It’s Jolie’s third feature as director and follows last year’s “Unbroken,” which earned $161 million worldwide.

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  1. Your cohort Justin Chang hates this film, I’m surprised a man actually “got it”. You’ll be drummed out of the “males only” Director’s Club.

    By the way, Brad and Angie’s production companies produced this film, Universal is distributing. Not to worry, it will make back it’s budget and more.

  2. Bill B. says:

    I’m not a fan of either one of these actors, but this sounds like a definite throwback to an era in film that hooked me forever. I look forward to seeing it, but I would imagine in this day & age that it will not be a commercial success. I’d like to be wrong.

  3. Lance says:

    So a studio just gave Angelina Pitt, someone who has not yet made a good film, millions of dollars to make bad art? Why not give a proven good director millions of dollars to make great art?

    • Katherine says:

      Precisely. A woman whose last studio film she directed lost money. Many other female writer/directors who are more talented, and capable than Jolie. 10 million exercise. 27 million student film.

  4. glasgowfilmfest says:

    Think this is Jolie’s third feature as a director.

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