Yesterday on the ultimate “me day” I got my first gel manicure (glitter blue – thanks for asking) and saw a matinee of Angelina Jolie’s new film By The Sea, by myself. Absent some kind words in The NYT, the film’s reviews were fairly abysmal (32% on Rotten Tomatoes) – NPR calls it an “undercooked mood piece,” Rolling Stone calls it “slow, sodden, and stupefying,” and the AV Club points out that its subject – “the ennui of the wealthy” – “has been explored to the point of cliché in European art-house cinema.” But as the ennui of the wealthy is my preferred cliché (my favorite films include The Royal Tenenbaums, Grey Gardens, and Melancholia), I thoroughly enjoyed it. And in fact it would be difficult for me to dislike a film depicting people suffering glamorously against the backdrop of turquoise seas, in bars and in bathtubs, decorating their time with alcohol and pills and cigarettes, the only “action” consisting of walks to the grocery store, sailboat rides, and casual psychological manipulation.
Angelina Jolie, resembling the universe’s saddest and most striking alien, plays the depressed wife of a washed up writer. She doesn’t speak much, but when she does, her words cut like sparkling knives. “I read a book today,” she says to Roland one day when he comes home from allegedly working on his next novel (i.e. drinking), “It was terrible. I don’t know why you stress out so much.” On another occasion, she informs Roland that the deliriously happy and physically perfect young couple in the hotel room next door invited them to go sailing. “What did you tell them?” Roland asks.
“I told them we hate boats and we hate people,” she says with an eerie smile.
Aside from these two scenes, the movie feels fairly empty, existing more as an aesthetic experiment, a mood board, than a fully-fledged narrative. While some movies leave me thinking, this film left me despondent, eager to spend the night listening to Lana Del Rey in the bathtub while pretending to smoke cigarettes. Although to be fair this is not unusual for me.
My friend slash muse recently invented a concept slash lifestyle she has donned, Lazy But Luxe. Adorned in designer silk threads and oversized YLS shades, often looking as though she’s dressed more appropriately for a funeral than for a beach vacation, By The Sea’s Angelina is the walking embodiment. While last year’s Buzzword “ratchet” deals with a cheap and sloppy form of laziness, Lazy But Luxe refers to lethargy at it’s most dazzling – a morose stillness, the type of languor where lifting a cigarette to your lips feels like over-exertion. Lana Del Rey sitting in a throne beside two tigers telling us we’re “Born to Die” gets it, as does Melancholia’s Kirstin Dunst when she leaves her own wedding to take a bath. But don’t get it twisted. We aren’t drawn to Angelina/Lana/Kirstin because she’s depressed. We’re drawn to how she deals with it: by remaining still while everyone spirals around her – the eye of the storm. Lazy But Luxe depicts not true indolence, but rather a hyper-aware construction, one that motivates others to action so you don’t have to. As my muse put it: “the fact that you care so little sparks everyone else to care so much – meanwhile, you just sit in your luxury, lazily.”
When I got home after the film and slipped into my own version of a silk negligee (a mesh tank-top), I realized I needed a moody playlist to properly channel my own personal Lazy But Luxe. So here it is, kiddos. Get in the tub and bask in your melancholy – I promise you it will feel fabulous.
Listen here: Lazy But Luxe
“Maundy Thursday” – Air France
“Lovesick” – Lindstrom & Christabelle
“I Want Your Love” – Chromatics
“Ultraviolence” – Lana Del Rey
“Rewind” – Kelela
“Pendulum” – FKA Twigs
“Night Time” – The xx
“Celestica” – Crystal Castles
“Redlights” – Salem
“Oro y Sangre” – John Talabot
“An Hour” – Forest Swords
“Vow (Diplo & Lunice Remix)” – Julianna Barwick
“Psychic Driving” – Soft Metals
“Cat Rider” – Little Dragon
“Le soleil est pres de moi” – Air
“Pink Matter” – Frank Ocean, Andre 3000
“Paradisco” – Charlotte Gainsbourg
“All Cats Are Grey” – The Cure
“True Blue” – Dirty Beaches
“Femme Fatale” – The Velvet Underground
“Wildfire” – Tinashe
“Bad Girls (Verdine Version)” – Solange
“Get Away” – The Internet
“Reason” – Spooky Black
“Fine Whine” – A$ap Rocky, Joe Fox, M.I.A.
“Pleasure” – Pure X
“Ring” – CFCF
“Looks Just Like The Sun” – Broken Social Scene
“It’s Personal” – The Radio Dept.
“Kim & Jessie – Montag Remix” – M83
“L’Amour Et La Violence” – Sebastian Tellier
“Maybes” – Mount Kimbie
“Divina” – Toro y Moi
“Fantastic Piano” – Axel Boman
“Lazy Calm” – Cocteau Twins
“Lullaby (D33j Remix)” – El Ten Eleven
“Anywhere Anyone – Remastered” – Dntel
“aisantana ” – Aphex Twin
“Then It’s White” – The Field
By Anna Dorn