Allied

allied-movie-poster

Release: Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Theater]

Written by: Steven Knight

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Brad Pitt finds a new ally in Marion Cotillard in his post-Angelina Jolie world. Sad face.

Actually, those were just rumors. And this isn’t a gossip column.

On the other hand, the two are pretty convincing playing a pair of lovestruck assassins whose loyalty to one another constantly competes with their loyalty to their own countries. Robert Zemeckis’ homage to classic wartime romantic epics is undeniably better because of the effortless charm of his leads, though Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh they are not. Not that that’s exactly a fair comparison. Allied isn’t setting out to reinvent the wheel; it rather feels more like a new tire with fresh tread. Perhaps it is better to consider the film more in the context of how it measures up to the classics found in Zemeckis’ back catalog as opposed to where it lies within the genre.

The film opens with SOE operative Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) parachuting into the sand dunes of French Morocco. It’s 1942 and he’s on a mission to take out a Nazi ambassador in Casablanca. He’s to work with French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), who narrowly escaped France after her resistance group became compromised. On the assignment they pose as a married couple and are successful in eliminating their target and escaping with their lives.

What begins as merely a cover story develops into the genuine article, and soon Max and Marianne are married and settling down to start a family in London. In a particularly memorable scene they welcome their daughter Anna amidst the chaos of another aerial raid accompanying the German blitzkrieg that devastated the East End. Even under normal circumstances the birthing of a child is an event that tends to really bring a couple together, so I can only imagine going through that experience literally on the streets while debris and gunfire are raining down around you would do wonders for your ability to commit to your significant other.

The intensifying pressures of the war make Max’s job a living hell when he is told by an officer that outranks both himself and his direct superior Frank Heslop (Jared Harris) that his wife is a suspected double agent who is actually working for the Germans. He is ordered to trick Marianne into playing into a trap and once it’s proven she is indeed a German spy he must execute her himself or face being hanged for high treason. Behold, the great sacrifices that must be made in love and war. Or in this case, love during war.

Old-fashioned romance is shaped by two terrific performances from Pitt and Cotillard who once again remind us why they are among the industry’s elites. The heartache accompanying Max’s dilemma is compounded when you take into account how good their characters are at what they do. The performances within the performances are compelling. Steven Knight provides the screenplay, tapping into the psychological aspect of a most unusual and highly dangerous profession. The first third of the film makes a point of fixating upon that idea, of how trust is so hard to come by when you’re a professional spy.

That same third is a good barometer for how the rest of the film will play out. If you’re expecting bombastic, flashy displays of wartime violence you may need to look elsewhere, although the aforementioned blitzkrieg provides some pulse-pounding moments. Knight’s story ditches numbing CGI in favor of a more human and more intimate perspective. It’s an approach that admittedly contributes to a slower paced narrative but one that never succumbs to being boring. This is a film that’s more about the way two people look at each other rather than the way entire nations fight each other. On those grounds alone Allied feels like a throwback to war films like Gone with the Wind and Casablanca, and where the former lacks the latter films’ sense of grandeur it more than makes up for it in nuance.

Ultimately Allied finds its director working comfortably within his wheelhouse while offering  a darker, more subtle story that’s well worth investing time into.

allied

Recommendation: The trifecta of a steadily absorbing narrative, plush cinematic texture that contributes mightily to the mise en scène, and excellent performances from two seasoned pros makes this an easy recommendation. Especially if you are partial to Robert Zemeckis’ compassionate voice. Every one of his films have been tinged with a romantic element but whereas The Walk, his penultimate release, suffered from an over-reliance on it (to the point of schmaltz, in this reviewer’s opinion) his 2016 effort uses it to its advantage, creating an ultimately enjoyable and often surprising wartime drama that will reward repeat viewings.

Rated: R

Running Time: 124 mins.

Quoted: “Hey, what happened to my kiss?” 

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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22 thoughts on “Allied

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    • I’m glad you are eager to see this! I really enjoyed it, and you know, I may be a bit more nice to this since the last thing this director put out was The Walk and I freaking hated that one. So this to me was a kind of bounce-back. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are good together.

  3. I’m hoping to finally see this Wednesday. Christmas time and a few unforeseen bumps have slowed my theater going. But I don’t quite know what to think about this one.

    • I liked this a lot. It’s one of Zemeckis’ least flowery productions. Pretty standard wartime romance drama with great performances and beautiful photography. None of that silliness that made The Walk such a schmaltz fest

    • I really did, Allied is a classic war romance. And even though it’s not so “epic” it is beautiful to look at and becomes pretty emotionally involving. Check it out!

  4. I’m not a big Zemeckis fan either but I’m determined to give more films with romantic elements a chance. This sounds like one I’ll like, the lack of CGI you mention is a big plus. Plus I really like both actors, I’ll have to see this in a month or whenever its out down here

    • Zemeckis seems like one of those directors who, when they’re on they’re REALLY on, but when they’re off their game they are pretty far off. The Walk was an “off” moment for me. But Allied is right back on. It’s really solid, I liked it a lot

      • I’ll keep a look out for sure. I love Cottilard, probably my favourite actress… Though I’m loving Amy Adams this year. I didn’t even bother with The Walk, sounds like I didn’t miss much, especially with a bigger romantic element

  5. I’m sold! I’m not the biggest fan of Zemeckis apart from Flight and the Back to the Future movies, but I think it goes without saying that he’s a very capable filmmaker and I’m totally for his homage to the wartime epics of classic Hollywood. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see two such great actors share the screen?

    • Exactly; I think Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard have the kind of chemistry that can probably be moulded into several different films. They’re what make Allied so worthwhile

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