Angelina Jolie Pitt’s new drama, By the Sea, promises to be a deeply personal film, but not because its portrayal of a marriage on the rocks is somehow reflective of her own relationship with costar and husband Brad Pitt.

Rather, as Jolie explains in a new video exclusive to EW and People, the 1970s-set film was largely inspired by her sorrow over losing her mother, the actress Marcheline Bertrand, who died of ovarian cancer in 2007.

“I wrote By the Sea because I wanted to explore grief,” Jolie Pitt says. “Much of the film and my character is very much about my mother, and my feelings about my mother. When the bartender speaks, and speaks about loss, that’s how I reflect on her. That’s how I feel about her, her death.”

The film centers on an American writer (Pitt) and his wife (Jolie Pitt) who arive in a picturesque seaside resort in France, spend time with fellow travelers and locals, and begin to confront unresolved issues in their lives. (Niels Arestrup portrays the bartender.)

“Everybody in the film represents a different way of addressing grief,” Jolie Pitt explains. “Some have yet to experience it, some are able to come to terms with it, and some are overwhelmed by it.”

Jolie says she hopes the movie will leave audiences with something to chew on. “I love films that make you walk away thinking and still trying to put the pieces together.”

By the Sea will have its world premiere at AFI FEST on Nov. 5 before opening in theaters Nov. 13. Watch the behind-the-scenes video above.

By the Sea
2015 movie
  • Movie
  • 122 minutes