By The Sea marks the return of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as onscreen lovers, but the trailer will disappoint anyone hoping to see explosive sparks a la Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Set in ’70s Paris, By The Sea follows Roland (Pitt) and Vanessa (Jolie) as they deal with a marriage on the rocks. He’s a writer and she’s a former dancer who may or may not resent his continued success—at the very least, he’s seen writing something in the trailer, while Vanessa fails to do even one plié.
They head to a seaside town to try to repair their relationship, but mostly keep to themselves at first. He writes and smokes, she cries and smokes. The root of their woes isn’t revealed in the trailer, though Roland does ask Vanessa if they’re ever going to talk about “it” (their troubled marriage, presumably). She hisses back that he “knows [her] reason,” but we don’t get much dialogue beyond that and his dares—or pleas—for her to “hurt him.”
Jolie wrote and directed By The Sea, and recently admitted to “borrowing” from her own life for the tenser scenes. Her real-life marriage to Pitt, as happy as it may seem to outsiders, will no doubt draw comparisons to Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and Scenes From A Marriage, especially given the upscale setting. Whether or not you were Team Angelina, though, it’s somewhat jarring to see Pitt and Jolie clash in the manner that they do in the trailer.
The film also stars Mélanie Laurent (Enemy) and Melvil Poupaud (A Summer’s Tale) as sexy locals who will serve as distractions for the already embattled couple. By The Sea hits theaters on November 13.