“By The Sea”: A Reflection

In true Lujon style, this is not so much a review but a noting down of thoughts, a reflection, on the already quite forgotten 2015 film By The Sea.

Written, directed and starring Angelina Jolie and her then husband, an underground indie actor called Brad Pitt. The film may have been criticised for championing style over substance; however this just about guarantees my love of something from lobster carbonara to brown suede mules. By The Sea is no exception and with this is mind it seems needless to say that the late 1960s aesthetic of the piece is divine!

Set largely in a beautiful hotel room, the narrative of the piece follows a once lauded creative couple: A previously celebrated writer played by Pitt and his wife, a former dancer, played by Jolie. They have travelled to a picturesque coastal French town to, it appears, exorcize the demons of a darkened romance. Omnipresent spectres of this complicated marriage are present throughout, although remain unmasked for much of the film. These undefined spectres are explored by Jolie, in her capacity as both writer and director, through a voyeuristic obsession with a young newly married couple in the neighbouring suite. Slowly both Pitt and Jolie’s characters are drawn into a desirous obsession and our two leads begin to find a common bond in there broken marriage. I shan’t reveal any more of the plot and will allow you to make your own judgements of this side of things.

In addition to the excavation of a marriage, By The Sea was about billowing curtains, vintage Yves Saint Laurent, fake lashes, marble, Brad Pitt smoking naked in the bath (he is also a vision of white vests, moustache and gold chains paired with distant, troubled glances), fierce rows, luggage (Goyard & Vuitton), mascara stained tears and I suppose, to some extent, the sea. Oh and HATS! Divine hats! Especially the leopard one that Angelina Jolie wears in the opening and closing shots of the film. Pussy bow blouses also feature importantly and heavily throughout. I know what you are thinking, thank goodness!

The collaboration of these then married mega stars, the creative control they had over the film, and their subsequent divorce AND the styling left more than a flavour of the Taylor-Burtons at that point, just past their prime, when things had begun to slide. By The Sea reminded me of many of Liz and Dick’s collaborations both in its indulgences, as well as it successes. Similarly, I would highly recommend this Jolie Pitt production, in much the same way I would of some of my personal favourites created by the Richard and Elizabeth: for the eyeliner over the plot line, for style over substance!

by Louis Romanus