Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

By the Sea

(France, Malta, USA, 2015)

When a movie really sucks, sometimes the writer can blame the director or the director can blame the writer. But when you are the writer and the director, you have to own the whole dud yourself. Angelina Jolie is both, and a co-star with her hubby at the time, Brad Pitt. (Are you deeply sorry that “Brangelina” is breaking up? Please, get a life!) He is a writer who can’t write, she is a depressed ex-dancer. They go to a beautiful little French village by the bright blue sea (filmed on a small island in Malta) to try to sort their problems out. Before long I had a pretty good idea that the main problem would concern children, probably a lost child. I was close. She is “barren,” has had two miscarriages. Isn’t it interesting that I can think of no comparable condemnatory adjective for a man who is shooting blanks? Lack of children is always a source of guilt for the mother.

The best thing I can say about this movie is that it is beautiful. But you’d have a hard time filming in this Maltese paradise and not making it beautiful. Everything else is monumentally boring. The story is one we’ve seen a thousand times, and usually a lot better than this. The pacing is dreadfully slow. Both the leading actors are out-shone by Niels Arestrup, who plays the owner and bartender of the small tavern in town. I bailed out at the forty-five minute mark. Lee stuck it out, and said I didn’t miss anything.