By The Sea

Director: Angelina Jolie Pitt (2015)

With bickering, boozing and bust ups, life’s far from a beach in this exasperating period drama.

Written and directed by Jolie Pitt, it’s a moody, beautiful and sincere exploration of grief and love.

It’s also seriously dull and a far cry in tone and scale from her last directorial effort, the entertaining second world war action epic Unbroken (2014).

Jolie Pitt’s ambition to stretch her range is admirable and she’s crafted a well acted movie with a consistent tone.

She co-stars with real life hubby Brad Pitt as an unhappily married couple holidaying in the south of France.

But Jolie’s writing strands them both with unappealing characters and some awful dialogue.

Vanessa is a pathetic, self-pitying and pill popping former dancer.

Roland’s a hard drinking chain smoking novelist who seems to model himself on Ernest Hemingway.

They’re nursing an unspoken grief the eventual revelation of which is predictable and a very long time coming.

Their strained relationship changes when passionate young newlyweds check into the hotel suite next door.

They’re played by the beautiful and frequently naked pair of Melvil Poupaud and Melanie Laurent.

What  follows is sunbathing and shopping as well a lot of voyeurism and a little violence.

There’s a vague sense of By The Sea being a thriller without a crime or a heist without a con.

It could be set in any time or place and still achieve the lavish levels of dramatic inertia.

Malta stands in for Cote D’Azur and is suitably ravishing while the1973 setting allows for extremely glamorous clothes and cars.

Brad sports some fabulous looking flannel which is exactly what this film amounts to.