That Sneak Peek Moment in the By The Sea Trailer

Film: By The Sea

What We Know So Far: An American couple in the 1970s take a vacation in France, traveling about the country steadily growing apart until they spend some time in a seaside village and things take a turn.

The Trailer: (Official #2)


Our Take

David: Well, like the first teaser released earlier, there is still no dialog, only long lingering images of unhappy wealthy people lounging about forlornly in a lavish French seaside villa. That said, it is rich with atmosphere and utterly riveting. Like a picture book with no words, it begs the viewer to comment on what is shown and what is shown is both intoxicating and disturbing. The powerful images are urgent, desperate, hostile and even a bit sensual. It’s a curious mix of ambiguity that sells the premise perfectly. I had doubts that I could distance myself from the voyeurism of watching a real married couple act their way through such an obviously traumatic story (their work on Mr. and Mrs. Smith was very good but comedic). Moody, fierce and strangely alluring, this is a well-produced trailer that has me highly anticipating the film.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Dan: This very compelling trailer doesn’t give away too much, but it suggests a lot. The darker sexual tones, a relationship in conflict, and the cinematography give me Eyes Wide Shut vibes. The 70s European setting adds to the aesthetic and creepy atmosphere. It feels like French New Wave meets Polanski. The trailer switches into suspense as Angelina Jolie’s character discovers a peep hole (or something) in the hotel wall. She approaches it and the screen fades to black, returning with Brad Pitt’s character slamming her against the wall. What did Jolie see? This switch up slices the tension. The music also crashes – going from classical into something like Portishead. I love how this sneak preview sells a feeling or mood rather than an action set-piece. We really don’t know what the story will entail. There’s no dialogue to help. In fact, the only on-screen sound is Jolie’s sad wounded gasp. For now, I’m most intrigued.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

What to Look for in the Trailer

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

David: There’s a lot to like about this clip, from the pastel, washed out lighting and 70s European vibe to the fantastic score selections. Jolie, directing, looks to be very patient, lingering on motionless moments, letting the viewer soak up every detail, setting a dark tone of pain among these two people that is almost frighteningly pervasive. As the trailer unfolds, we have an arc, where the two are seen in different locations sitting and pondering alone until there is a physical clash, punctuated by a jarring but satisfying shift in the music. We see attempts to numb these spats with drugs and drives. But the trailer is clear to show that none of these are effective. My Sneak Peek Moment comes when all that comes to a sudden silence and we see the man embracing the woman followed by the only vocalized sound in the clip, the wife crumbling to floor unseen, weeping in sorrow.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Dan: The photography is beautiful. It feels like all natural lighting. Jolie’s earlier features also placed a great emphasis on cinematography. Despite the amazing scenery, this lost and disaffected couple seem distant and depressed. For some reason, this vacation isn’t helping. One of the best camera shots that suggests this sort of feeling and really caught my attention is flashed briefly for an instance. My Sneak Peek Moment is a spiraled reflection of blonde hair whipping about in a strangely shaped ceiling mirror. This sort of suggestive camerawork makes me feel like Jolie is open to improvisation on set. A lot of my favourite directors like Terrence Mallick capture the Moment rather than plan it. Let’s hope this camera shot is a good indication of the style to behold and the feelings that will be evoked.

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