BY THE SEA

"The Movie Is About as Rocky as the Marriage"

Quality:
Content: -3 Excessive content and/or worldview problems.
NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

What You Need To Know:

Written and Directed by Angelina Jolie Pitt, BY THE SEA stars the actress and her husband Brad Pitt as a struggling married couple vacationing in a small French village in the mid 1970s. Roland is a writer looking for inspiration, hoping he’ll find some through the people he meets in a small seaside village. Vanessa is a housewife and former dancer who’s struggling with depression. As the two meander around town, spending their time apart, the tension of the past and the present begins to boil over.

BY THE SEA has the slow pace of a modern French drama, but not the subtlety. For those who enjoy slow dramas, there are moments to appreciate. Everything is aesthetically pleasing in BY THE SEA, proving once again the Angelina Jolie Pitt has an eye for visual storytelling. Dramatically, the movie feels like an uneven rollercoaster, however. The movie has a mixed moral, humanist worldview, with some positive forgiveness, reconciliation and even prayer but ends in a slight humanistic way. BY THE SEA is marred by explicit sexual content and foul language, making it excessive.

Content:

(BB, C, H, LLL, V, SSS, NN, AAA, DD, MM) Moral, somewhat redemptive worldview of forgiveness, reconciliation, fighting for marriage, loyalty, and a moment where a woman goes to a church to pray for “forgiveness” and “strength,” and man also says he’s a believer so he can see his deceased wife in Heaven, with a light humanist/existentialist message at the end; more than 18 obscenities (mostly “f” words) and two strong profanities; a husband punches a man who wanted to sleep with his wife, and man pushes his wife, but doesn’t hurt her; very strong sexual content, husband and wife watch honeymooners through a hole in the wall and see several moments of undress and explicit sex, husband and wife have sexual relations in a bathtub, but the camera eventually cuts away, woman almost cheats on husband but is interrupted, and sounds of married couples engaging in sex; upper female and male nudity in both sexual and non-sexual situations, and rear female and male nudity; heavy drinking and drunkenness throughout; no smoking but some prescription drug abuse; woman tries to commit suicide and tries to destroy her own marriage as well as someone else out of jealousy.

More Detail:

Written and Directed by Angelina Jolie Pitt, BY THE SEA stars the actress and her husband Brad Pitt as a struggling married couple vacationing in a small French village in the mid 1970s.

Roland is a writer looking for inspiration, hoping that he’ll find some through the people he meets in a small seaside village in France. Vanessa is a housewife and former dancer who’s struggling with severe depression. Roland finds comfort in alcohol, and Vanessa in prescription drugs. As the two meander around town, spending most of their time apart, the tension of the past and the present begins to boil over.

When a honeymooning couple arrives and moves into the hotel room next to theirs, Roland and Vanessa develop a bizarre fascination for the couple. Spying on them together through a hole in the wall, the two become addicted to watching the couple, even befriending them and purposefully getting them drunk to see if they can create drama.

Additionally, Roland befriends the owner of a local restaurant, who recently lost his wife. Even though Vanessa is harsh, and sometimes downright cruel to Roland, he pursues her and loves her. Roland makes mistakes along the way, but he never cheats on Vanessa, even when she pushes him to do so.

BY THE SEA has the slow pace of a French Drama, but not the subtlety. Clocking in at 132 minutes, if the movie doesn’t put you to sleep, you’ll feel as if you’ve run a slow marathon. For those that enjoy slow dramas, there are moments to really appreciate. Everything is aesthetically pleasing in BY THE SEA, proving once again the Angelina Jolie Pitt has an eye for visual storytelling. Dramatically, the movie feels like an uneven rollercoaster, and not in a good way. The mysterious conflict between Roland and Vanessa becomes frustratingly mundane, and their odd peeping-tom activity feels contrived. This presents the biggest issue with BY THE SEA, like Roland and Vanessa’s spying on the honeymooners, the audience is forced to watch intimate moments between married couples that just don’t need to be seen.

While the movie involves some heavy drinking and sexual content, the movie has a mixed biblical and humanist worldview. The Roland and Vanessa find a way to reconcile, forgive and transcend their pain. At one point, Vanessa even goes to a church and tells Roland that she prayed for “Forgiveness” and “for the strength to mean it.”

In the end, while the marriage is saved, there’s a somewhat humanist and existential worldview. Because of the explicit sexual content and foul language, the movie is excessive. Media wise viewers will want to avoid BY THE SEA.

Want more content like this? Make a donation to Movieguide®