I’ve heard second-hand poop from a guy who’s seen Angelina Jolie‘s By The Sea (Universal, 11.13), which will open AFI Fest on 11.5. It’s been described as “an old-fashioned European art film” and, the source added, a good one in that vein. But now Jolie is describing it as a grief movie about her mother. I’m telling you right now that bummed out feelings are not, in and of themselves, anyone’s idea of compelling subject matter for a film.

I’m saying this having just struggled through Reed Morano‘s Meadowland, another grief movie. Nobody can tell me much about downish mood pits, trust me, and I sure as hell don’t want to sit through a film that tries to soak me in someone else’s quicksand. Thanks but nope.

In a new Vogue interview, it’s said that Jolie “wanted to explore bereavement — how different people respond to it. She set the action in the ’70s, when her mother was in her vibrant 20s, and began simply with a husband and wife. She gave them a history of grief, put them in a car, and drove them to a seaside hotel to see how the pair — Roland, a novelist with a red typewriter, and Vanessa, a former dancer with boxes of clothes and hats — attend to their pain. Vanessa is frail, tortured, hemmed in. She feeds her mourning a diet of pills and suicidal fantasies. Roland is defeated by the seclusion of her anguish, and drinks. And so it goes on until innocent newlyweds move in next door…”

“It’s not autobiographical,” says Jolie. “Brad and I have our issues,” she offers, “but if the characters’ were even remotely close to our problems we couldn’t have made the film.”

What? Isn’t that what ballsy artists do — open themselves up, lay it on the line, spill the paint, the truth and nothing but?