I think that you can be self-indulgent and still make a good film. "By the Sea" is not a good film.

I think that you can be self-indulgent and still make a good film. "By the Sea" is not a good film.

Written and directed by Angelina Jolie Pitt - who co-stars with husband Brad Pitt, who also co-produced the film - "By the Sea" bears the marks of a production where no one was told "no." This is how Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" got made.

Jolie Pitt (as she is credited) and Pitt play Vanessa and Roland, a married couple whose getaway to the French coastline is mired in their disintegrating marriage. Roland spends his days drinking at a local café. Vanessa spends hers looking forlorn and wistful.

A peephole into the adjoining room leads to voyeurism of a happy couple (Mélanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud), which eventually brings Roland and Vanessa's issues to light.

Jolie Pitt has directed several features to date (most recently "Unbroken"), but this is the first time she is both in front of and behind the camera. Her performance generally consists of her hitting the same brooding note, over and over. A blank stare. An occasional single tear. Repeat.

Pitt hams on the other hand, playing a pained author with a Hemingway-esque taste for the bottle.

With events based in part on the couple's own life, this movie is so deeply in their heads that there's little concern for an audience that isn't given enough context to care. A Hollywood power couple can make pretty much anything they want. You should see pretty much anything else.

"By the Sea"

Opens Friday

1 1/2 stars out of 4