"By the Sea" is a very personal film for Angelina Jolie Pitt and not just because it reunites her onscreen with her husband, Brad Pitt. It's not even because she wrote, directed, produced and stars in the film.
"By the Sea" is personal because it was inspired by the grief of losing her mother in 2007, Jolie Pitt said Thursday at the film's premiere, AFI Fest's opening-night gala at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre.
She started writing when she was missing her mother, without knowing exactly what she was creating.
"When you write something from a blank page, it's very hard to say, 'This is important,' because you don't know: It's your own life. It's your own depression. It's your own questions about your mother. Grief. Where to put your pain," Jolie Pitt said. "For me, it was important to try to do it. And it was important to try to do it for my mother. It was important for myself. And it was wonderful to work with Brad, and for us to be able to get through it together, because we tested ourselves to see if we could do something like this together."
"By the Sea" is a slow, quiet drama about a wealthy American couple on a French seaside retreat. Roland (Pitt) is there to write, but mostly just ends up drinking. Vanessa (Jolie Pitt) is there to relax, but ends up grumping around and popping pills. They avoid each other and their relationship is clearly strained. Their dynamic begins to change when they befriend (and secretly spy on) a newlywed couple on their honeymoon.