Author: JoAnne Hyde
Date: November 21, 2016

SYNOPSIS: The story of intelligence officer Max Vatan, who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war.

There are two good reasons to see Allied, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. One is the radiant Ms. Cotillard, and the other is the spectacular cinematography. From the dramatic and exquisite opening shot of Pittís character Max Vatan parachuting into the Moroccan desert, to the idyllic shots of 1942 Casablanca (actually shot in the Canary Islands), to the stirring courage under fire scenes, this film is a visual feast.

Marion Cotillard brings passion and an alluring presence to her role of French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour. Her performance is sincere and focused, enhancing the inevitable tragedy of war.

The filmís trailer outlines the basic story. Max Vatan (Pitt) and Marianne (Cotillard) are teamed up, posing as man and wife, to assassinate the German ambassador to Morocco. Vatan then proposes that she return with him to London and become his wife. They have a baby daughter, Anna, and all seems perfect until Vatan is called into intelligence headquarters and told that his wife may be a German spy. Not only that, but if their suspicions are confirmed, heíll have to execute her or face execution himself.

Horrified, Vatan sets out to prove Marianneís innocence. He follows a twisted trail which leads him behind enemy lines and puts him in impossible positions. Allied really seems like two films: the first being the intrigue in Casablanca and the subsequent transition to peaceful domestic life in England, and the second being Vatanís desperate search for evidence to clear Marianne. I wish I could say that Brad Pitt was really invested in his character, but only in a few scenes does he equal Cotillardís passion. Zemeckis has gone all Benjamin Button on Pitt to make him look younger, but the result is that he just looks blandly handsome. There doesnít seem to be much beneath his smooth exterior. He rises to the occasion only in his scenes of desperation and grief, and I couldnít help wondering if his much-publicized personal troubles had an effect on his performance. At any rate, Cotillard acts circles around him! I couldnít help but wonder how Christian Bale or Matt Damon would have managed the role.

I would mention other characters, but they donít really matter much. The film belongs to Cotillard and Pitt. Lizzy Caplan appears as Maxís lesbian sister, Bridget, to no obvious purpose. She has little to do with anything other than smooch with her girlfriend. This behavior seems to be casually accepted by everyone which I found odd because the decriminalization of same-sex sexual activity in the UK wasnít addressed until 1967 finally culminating in 1982. This undeveloped sub-plot served only as a distraction, as did a scene of party guests snorting cocaine. Why derail the main story line for what seems an attempt to strike a more contemporary note that doesnít ring true in a period piece?

Allied is entertaining, but the suggestion of ever-present danger that was pervasive in WWII Europe should have been more intense. I didnít find myself caught up in suspense as I would have expected. Let me just say this: you know what will happen; you just donít know how it will happen. - JoAnne Hyde


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