Universal Pictures 122 minutes R
This film is painful on every level. It may be a labor of love for them, (They shot it on their own honeymoon in Malta after getting married in France). But it’s hardly a love story that makes sense on the screen. First of all, much of this film is in French with subtitles. We speak French, so that wasn’t as much of a problem for us, but subtitles can be distracting. Was it really necessary to have it in French, unless it was in tribute to Jolie Pitt’s French mother who died of cancer, or to show that she and Pitt both speak well.
What should have been the romantic story of an unhappy married couple trying to find a way to start over becomes a sordid and tedious bit of filmmaking showing a depressed woman and her husband’s inability to deal his wife’s bizarre behavior and antics. As Roland, Brad Pitt has his own problems as a struggling writer who drinks too much.
Angelina Jolie Pitt wrote, directed and stars as Vanessa in this too long film which seems to be more a way to study these super stars and see them work together than anything else. They’re in a picturesque setting By the Sea in France wearing elegant 70’s period costumes. You can see just how incredibly striking and beautiful Jolie Pitt is in so many close ups that go on forever without seeming to have a purpose.
Plus, there is a lot of detail in this film that doesn’t work. Vanessa holes up in their hotel and finds a hole in the wall between their suite and the one taken by passionate honeymooners, Mélanie Laurent (Now You See Me) as Lea and Melvil Poupaud as François. She watches the couple go at it again and again. When husband Roland becomes a fellow peeping Tom, they are not only entertained, but form a bond watching the young couple. How the newlyweds never see light coming through the hole in the wall or hear them talk about them is puzzling.
Vanessa and Roland slowly get to know the young honeymooners while dining and sailing with them. That interaction leads to a situation that exposes Vanessa and Roland and what is really going on. But it’s not revealed until the very end of the film. Vanessa tries to seduce François. Roland intervenes in the nick of time. Vanessa came on to Francois because she was jealous and can’t cope with being barren. It’s hard to look at these stars as childless when having so many children including 3 of their own is part of their celebrity. They never really disappear into their characters in this film.
The scenery and the trappings, including the clothes and the cool, convertible Citroën car are very pretty and made us want to hop a plane for a European vacation. But this couple is such a downer.
The film seems to be more of a vehicle for the mega stars to work together. Jolie Pitt said in interviews that she loved working with Brad because he understands her so well. There is apparently a great amount of trust there. He agrees and likes working with her because she’s decisive and the found her “sexy” as a director.
Is this movie worth your bucks? If you can’t get enough of this celebrity couple, you’ll get plenty here. But it’s so slow and depressing. Don’t expect the fire or the humor you saw in Mr. and Mrs. Smith which brought them together. Set aside two hours, that feel a lot longer, for a movie that doesn’t make much sense. They are both enormously talented but this isn’t the vehicle that shows it. It’s the Pitts!