Critic Reviews



Based on 35 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
The Playlist
Jolie Pitt’s insistence on creating a piece that reflects the harsh inner state of a person suffering to understand herself as a wife and as a woman in the world is commendable, and fascinating in her growth as a filmmaker.
It sounds far sexier, just based on the synopsis, than it actually plays, though, so hopefully people aren't sold the wrong movie. For those in the mood for a throwback to the doomed romanticism of mid'60s art films, this feels like about as sincere an homage as anyone could produce.
Slant Magazine
If it stumbles when it seeks our sympathy, it thrives when it's exploiting our fascination with the surface of things, and all that's unknowable underneath.
By the Sea’s uncompromising nature is its most admirable asset. It’s a vanity project that’s difficult to love, but alluring to unpack.
Jolie Pitt, who also wrote and directed, shows a lot of skin (her own and her cast’s) without ever really getting under it. Misery doesn’t just love good-looking company; it needs an emotional center and a satisfying narrative arc, too.
Roland and Vanessa simply aren’t sufficiently compelling to provoke us to fill in the blanks. Pitt brings his usual weathered charm, and Jolie Pitt makes her character’s all-consuming melancholy occasionally ravishing, but there’s not enough depth underneath.
By the Sea always offers something to tickle the eye and ear, even as it leaves the heart and mind coolly unstirred.
There's no catharsis at the end from the journey taken, just relief that it's over.
Village Voice
The film doesn't demonstrate belief in much of anything except that audiences must be so desperate for a peek into these stars' private lives that we'll invest energy in their mopey fictional counterparts, who can't even invest in themselves.
If By the Sea weren’t so aggressively humorless, it might almost qualify as camp, so unsuccessful is its pursuit of weighty drama. Unintentional laughs are hard to come by here; instead, there are yawns aplenty.

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