“But no man moved me till the tide / Went past my simple shoe /And past my apron and my belt / And past my bodice too / And made as he would eat me up / As wholly as a dew…”
Whether or not this poem by Emily Dickinson, published under the title By the Sea, served as inspiration for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s new film of the same name, the spirit seems to match up with its story of a woman caught in an undertow of passion and rejuvenation while visiting a seaside village with her husband.
By the Sea is the first onscreen collaboration between the newlyweds since they first met on 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Jolie not only stars but also wrote the screenplay and is directing and producing. Along with these exclusive images, Entertainment Weekly has the first details of the romantic drama, which has been kept under wraps until now.
Although Pitt and Jolie just tied the knot themselves on Aug. 23 after a nearly decade-long relationship, this is how they’ll be spending their honeymoon—exploring a marriage that’s collapsing on itself.
Set in France during the mid-1970s, Jolie plays Vanessa, a former dancer, and Pitt is her husband Roland, an American writer. As they travel the country together, they seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper (War Horse and A Prophet‘s Niels Arestrup, pictured below) and hotel owner (Richard Bohringer, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover.)
“I chose to set By the Sea in the 1970s, not only because it is a colorful and alluring era, but because it removes many of the distractions of contemporary life and allows the focus to remain squarely on the emotions that the characters experience in their journey,” Jolie said in a statement to EW.
In other words, it was a time when it was still possible to escape your everyday life without so many methods of staying connected or distracted. In this story, she says a different kind of social networking takes place.
As a kind of found-family is assembled amid these maritime dwellers, histories are shared—some joyful, some mournful—and the couple are swept up in their stories, changing the way they look at each other.
The film will be Jolie’s follow-up to the World War II-era survival drama Unbroken, due in theaters Dec. 25, and will be her third directing project since her debut with 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey.
Universal Pictures will release the film, although no date has been set, and studio chairman Donna Langley said she signed on to make By the Sea after finding Jolie’s script so provocative. “I was struck by the fact that she and Brad are willing to bring such a brave endeavor to screen and take audiences on this raw, emotional journey that’s simultaneously of its moment and surprisingly timeless,” she said.
Pitt will be co-producing the film with Jolie, and among the film’s other crew will be editor Patricia Rommel (The Lives of Others); production designer Jon Hutman (Unbroken); and costume designer Ellen Mirojnick (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps). The executive producers are Chris Brigham (Inception), Holly Goline (Unbroken) and Michael Vieira (Unbroken).
Cinematographer Christian Berger, an Oscar nominee for Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, said he will be employing mostly natural light for By the Sea, using the Cine Reflect Lighting System he developed to channel existing light using a series of reflectors that create a warmer, less distracting environment. “It changes the method of working on set for the director and the actors, and in this film enhances the period and atmosphere,” he told EW.
The film began shooting in Malta on Sept. 8, and will continue through mid-November.