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.

M is for Makita

This past Saturday I went to Makita Kitchen & Bar in downtown Ottawa with my friends Hetal and Manasa. One of my New Years Resolutions for 2018 was to visit 10 Ottawa hotspots (but as my cousin Hiten said – “Isn’t ‘Ottawa’ and ‘hot spots’ an oxymoron?!”). I am venturing to prove him wrong.

Makita was recommended to me by my brother Raju, who went last month and said it was excellent. The restaurant is easy to miss, but you can spot it by the fancy “M” jutting outside of the roof’s shingles.

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Makita Kitchen & Bar, The Glebe, Ottawa

The name “Makita” means “Due North”, and the restaurant is located in the North end of the Glebe. The cuisine is “Pan Asian” or “New Asian”, and they successfully combine elements of Asian cuisine with dishes such as gnocchi, steam buns, and falafel.

Manasa and I arrived a little late (due to the snowy weather) and we found Hetal comfortably seated, enjoying a glass of white wine. She looked amazing in her pink sweater, dangling earings, and bright smile. We soon joined her and each ordered a Cab Sauvignon.

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A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon to start the evening

For appetizers, we shared the Fried Tofu, Steam Buns, and the Sesame Tuna. I absolutely loved the Sesame Tuna, it might’ve been my favourite dish of the evening.

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Fried Tofu
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Sesame Tuna

The steam buns are the restaurant’s specialty – freshly baked doughy bread with a tasty filling. Initially we weren’t going to get them, but then we thought that we couldn’t get the full experience without them, so we changed our minds. Hetal and Manasa had the shrimp shui mai flavour, which was inside a squid-ink bun, and I had the falafel vegetarian version, sans squid.

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Sticky buns, a Makita specialty

For the main course, Hetal and I shared the Thai Gnocchi and Manasa had the Ramen noodle dish (not your $2 grocery store kind, but a sophisticated blend of pickled shiitake mushrooms, nori, pork belly, soy egg, scallion, and togarashi).

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Enjoying our meal and the company

We had a blast laughing and catching up, discussing life in general, networking events, and politics.

Our waiter James was super nice, and even danced for us. And of course we had to take a few fun selfies!

The ambience was great – not too loud, cozy, trendy, and outside was beautiful with the snow falling gently.

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View of Bank Street, Ottawa, from Makita Restaurant & Bar

Hetal joked that the restaurant would get full points for its bathroom, which had a small men’s room, and a larger women’s one (makes so much sense).

My bill came to $52 (not including tax and tip), which is not bad at all considering the amount and quality of food, and the two glasses of wine.

Overall I would rate the restaurant 8.5/10, and I would definitely go back! Can’t wait for Hot Spot #2!