Movie Review: By the Sea

In this dramatic and often dark film, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play a troubled couple on the verge of destruction (funny how life often mirrors art isn’t it?). The movie was filmed on their honeymoon in 2015. Jolie plays Vanessa, a former dancer – now depressed and unable to commit herself to anything, and Pitt plays Roland, a struggling writer. They have been married for 14 years, and things have taken a turn for the worse.

The cinematography in this film is absolutely stunning. Set in a French beachtown, with gorgeous beaches and expansive views, the dark mood is in stark contrast with the beauty that surrounds them. Or is it? It is often said that beauty is most vivid during times of pain. The movie is filmed in Malta on the island of Goza, and if you’ve never been there before, this film will motivate you to add it to your bucket list.

There are many tension-filled scenes throughout the movie. It is almost cringe-worthy to witness how Vanessa berates her husband over his lack of success as a writer. She knows exactly how to get him where it hurts the most. And on his end, he is often very forceful and unsympathetic about her depression and growing distaste of him.

A big part of the movie is the relationship that Vanessa and Roland have with the young, happy couple that are staying in the room beside them. The couple are light-hearted and carefree, and ooze sexuality and playfulness. Vanessa discovers a peephole from her bedroom, and watches them in fascination, getting a glimpse of what her marriage could be, or maybe what it once was. Roland tries to stay away from the beautiful blonde, perhaps because he has been drawn to indiscretions in the past.

Throughout the movie you wonder, what on earth could have brought Vanessa and Roland to this state? We do eventually learn the cause of their pain which helps the viewer make sense of their level of hostility and downright hatred towards each other at times. It’s hard to tell if they even love each other at all – maybe they did once, but the love became twisted because of the hardships they experienced – rather than sticking together, they somehow turned against each other.

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Pitt & Jolie, ‘By the Sea’

In terms of the acting, Angelina and Brad are at their best. It always amazes me that super famous celebrities can still manage to convince us that they are other people, despite the fact that we know so much about them and they are so familiar.

SPOILER ALERT: One of my favourite scenes is when they finally make love, and he gets into the bathtub with her while she is taking a bath. There is nothing sexier than a man who isn’t afraid to get a little wet. ;-)

I wonder how Brad and Angelina would feel re-watching this movie now. Although I hear that actors often don’t watch their own work, so maybe they won’t ever watch this film. Although if I was an actor, I would probably watch my films over and over.

Overall I would give this movie a 6/10, which is pretty generous. The movie definitely makes you reflect on the tumultuous nature of relationships, and reflect on your own patterns. There are moments of depth and reflection, and of course there are those beautiful views.

When we die on the inside, the outside is left wandering dangerously by the sea.

It is by the sea, that sometimes a sense of peace arrives… and at other times, all it reveals are troubled waters beneath.

Crazy Yet Blissful

Week 33! Only 19 more to go. It was a very rainy day on Monday. I started out in the morning tutoring a teenage girl who is a refugee from Syria. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had some time to help her out with preparing for grade 9. She wants to attend a local high school instead of one further away that has an ESL program. I’m rooting for her all the way!! We are reading a book called Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay – the author also did the illustrations which are magical and out of this world. It reminds me of how I want to help my Mom to complete her children’s book. We were just talking about it in fact. She (my Mom) is pretty busy at the moment with work, but we shall work on it in the next few months, after we return from England.

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Tutoring Session, Reading Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay

After the session I felt a little dejected because it was a rainy day and I had no plans and I almost felt like just going home instead of carrying on. But on I went. I made it to the local library (Beaverbrook Library), where I sat down on a round table near the back and read from Veiled Threat. The section I read hit close to home because it was about mental health issues and how many women in Afghanistan suffer from anxiety, depression, and are often on the verge of suicide. The numbers are actually staggering. Mind you, this book was written over 10 years ago, so it would be interesting to know what the numbers are now. One of the girls interviewed (age 16) from Kabul said: “Sometimes I think suicide may be a way out of this horrible life, but I feel sympathy for my mother since I am all she has in this world.” Some of the edicts set by the Taliban are so outrageous that they actually make me laugh. They have specified that the stones used to kill a woman must not be so large as to kill her quickly, but small enough that the death is prolonged and she gets due justice. Women continue to be stoned to death in countries like Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan, although not legally but by communities for reasons like adultery or the husband finding out that his bride is not a virgin. Imagine how many stonings there would be in Canada if these were justifiable reasons?!

At the library, I ran into an old family friend, Surinder Auntie, who is a librarian there. We chatted a little about how I was in Ottawa for awhile, and how two of her kids live in Toronto, but her daughter misses Ottawa a lot and is planning to move back home. I can relate, because I find Ottawa so beautiful!! Nothing compares to the simple beauty of the Beaver Pond, late-night walks with my parents, and watching Hot in Cleveland in the evening, or Modern Family, The Mentalist, or Making  A Murderer (which I have yet to watch). Makes me not want to leave.

Oh, before running into Surinder Auntie, I logged into one of the library computers and drafted my email for Walk In Her Shoes, which is coming up this Monday. I am happy that there are quite a few people joining me, and that other people find this cause to be as important as I do. Or maybe they don’t, but are just there to support me. My Mom will be making us a big lasagna brunch to celebrate the completion of the walk. Here is a little excerpt from the email that I sent out:

I’ve included some photos of the walk over the past 5 years, full of joy and dedication, while keeping in mind why we walk – to walk in solidarity with women and girls who are not able to take human rights for granted, who deserve a chance not just to survive, but to thrive, to realize their dreams and potential. There are tremendous things happening all over the world, from grassroots to local to national and worldwide, and there is a planetary shift happening far beyond what we can imagine. In this time of so much negativity and violence, there is a lot to be hopeful for. As the CARE Canada slogan says, and what I truly believe, Together We Can Make A Difference. I’m grateful to be surrounded by powerful men and women who are taking action and making a difference.

And here are some of those pictures, gathered over the years:

After the library I sauntered into the Kanata Art Gallery, adjoining to the library and met a local artist and fell in love with one her paintings, which was made from fabric and was kind of like a framed quilt. Art Galleries are a place of such stillness for me.

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I continued on home in the rain, and when I arrived home I was absolutely soaked. My Mom said something like “You crazy girl, walking in the rain!! You will catch a cold.”  It’s true, I did look a little crazy, and also amidst that craziness was a little bit of bliss.

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Walking home in the rain, crazy yet blissful

The next walk is a big one; it’s the group walk with my Mom, Rima, Silin, my cousins, and others. Looking forward to it!