This was a weird watch. Weird in that the two leads’ personal lives overshadowed everything. At the time they were still married and two of the most known/recognized people on the planet. Hard to separate fiction from reality here. Is it a representation of their marriage? Angelina Jolie did direct and write the film muddying the water even more.
While staying at a coast side hotel in France, a couple tries to repair their marriage. You would have to think that Roland (Brad Pitt – Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Vanessa’s (Angelina Jolie – Salt, Malificent) had once been better, but now they both seem rather unhappy and disconnected. It seems like this is more than a rough patch as, though they are still married, they seem to be living separate lives.
She seems to be going through a depression barely able to even get out of bed each day while he spends most of his time drinking rather than doing what he is supposed to which is write his next novel. Each coping with their unhappiness in different ways.
Roland strikes up a friendship with the hotel’s bartender Michel (Niels Arestrup – War Horse, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as he is seeking someone to talk to due to the fact that his wife barely says ten words to him.
When she does get out of bed, Vanessa spends time spying on the recently married young couple next door through a hole in the wall she has discovered. Lea (Melanie Laurent – Inglourious Basterds, Beginners) and Francois (Melvil Poupaud – The Lover, Le Divorce) soon start hanging out with Vanessa and Roland, unaware that they are being spied on.
A very stylized film by Jolie modeled upon French films of the 70s. It has a very particular pace, tone and look to it as a result. Visually the film is beautiful, but due to the pace and tone I am certain in saying this film won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Many will have their eyes roll back into their heads in boredom.
For those who have some staying power, the film is an interesting watch as there is plenty of time and space allowed for character growth and the unraveling of the story. Film really being art here. Storytelling and the look of it are vitally important. Plenty of time and investment is put into both. A rare thing in films of late. Modern art house cinema.
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