Throughout her highly-publicized split, the First They Killed My Father director has been nothing if not consistent, filing a divorce "for the health of the family," according to her lawyer. But, in her New York Times interview, Angelina Jolie implies her split with Brad Pitt wasn't just about the health of their children, but may have also been about a change in her understanding of what family truly means. Though she danced around a firm explanation, when talking about her kids, she stated, "They really help me so much. We’re really such a unit. They’re the best friends I’ve ever had. Nobody in my life has ever stood by me more." As Cara Buckley, the interviewer for the piece, remarked, you can read a possible allusion to ("or indictment of") Pitt in the final line.
This impression grows stronger when Buckley speculates based on Jolie's words that her latest film may have "informed her decision" to split from Pitt after the director talked about the time she spent during the movie ruminating on what family meant, namely, "how they should help each other and take care of one another." Jolie then states, "Loung had such horrors in her life but also had so much love, and that is why she’s all right today. That is something I need to remember."
From these comments, it seems that the Maleficent voice actor may have felt a lack of love and support in her marriage. And working on this film, thinking about this family and the concept of family in general, may have made those feelings even stronger and given her some serious doubts.
While she has stayed relatively quiet about the specifics of the topic, Jolie did previously imply that she and Pitt had separated because of issues between Pitt and their children. For example, a statement her attorney made on breaking the news of the divorce read:
This decision was made for the health of the family. She will not be commenting at this time, and asks that the family be given their privacy during this difficult time.
However, during Jolie's first major interview after news of the divorce with Vanity Fair, after being asked about the split, she talked about her children being "brave" following the breakup. The interviewer asked when, specifically, they were brave, and she said, "In times they needed to be. ... We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing. ... They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from some... from life, from things in life."
As Jolie pointed out earlier in The New York Times article about her work in Cambodia, "Once you get exposed to what’s really happening in the world, and other people’s realities... you can’t ever wake up and pretend it’s not happening. Your entire life shifts." At the time, this led to her adopting Maddox, divorcing then-husband Billy Bob Thornton, and becoming the activist and humanitarian that we know her as today. But it's possible, from her statements, that First They Killed My Father had an equally life-changing effect on her and her concept of family, one that could have been a contributing factor in the months leading to the split.
Obviously, none of this contradicts the earlier statement that the decision was very much made for the health of the family. And, in The New York Times piece, when asked about her family's health, Jolie replies, "They’re getting better." But it's also true that Jolie may have needed to work on this film to shine a light on what she needed to get better, as well.