IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 124 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
In 1942 during World War II, Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan travels to Casablanca in French Morocco to assassinate the German ambassador. He is partnered with a French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beausejour, who had escaped from France after her resistance group was compromised and killed. The two pose as a married couple and grow close, despite agreeing that in their line of work feelings can get people killed. The mission goes well and they both escape, get married, settle down in Hampstead, and have a baby girl named Anna. Then Max learns from the Special Operations Executive that Marianne is suspected of being a German spy….
Any Second World War romantic drama is almost asking for trouble when its first third is set in Casablanca, and Robert Zemeckis’s partial throwback to a type of film you don’t see much of today does feel the need to throw some sex, blood and swearing which almost seem out of place. It doesn’t get off to a good start either with some extremely obvious CGI during a parachute landing. However it does almost immediately become quite diverting and, while its first section seems a little rushed – we’re supposedly watching two people posing as a married couple fall in love for real but they seem to suddenly start screwing in a car [during a sandstorm, the camera going round and round them though it’s hardly Vertigo we’re talking here] out of the blue – it really can be called one of those films that gets better and better as it goes along. Once our couple move to London the gradually increasing suspense is expertly handled even if the answer to the supposed mystery being presented isn’t really ever in doubt. The bursts of action, the best being a really quite nerve wracking moment with a German plane about to crash, are well handled , and there’s a party scene which shows the “live for the moment”attitude of many during the time very well, though some typical ‘modern’ political correctness raises its head with an extremely ‘open’ lesbian couple.
The main focus of course is on the well worn but still usually effective “is she or isn’t she” idea, how well do we really know the person we share a bed with? Zemeckis and his cinematographer Don Burgess make extensive use of mirrors to reinforce the themes of Stephen Knight’s script [based on a true story], and give us a fine looking film overall. Even if his character is supposed to be reserved, Brad Pitt is a little too muted in his role but does a lot of good acting with just his eyes. However, something strange has happened to his face – they’ve either CGI-d it to make it look like the face of a far younger man or the guy has had a huge amount of Botox – but it’s hugely distracting. Marion Cotillard really has the harder role and she pulls it off superbly, effortlessly mysterious throughout. Her smiles are especially well done because they’re often impossible to read. Unfortunately the two stars, despite all those rumours, don’t really have the chemistry required to totally make things work. Allied never quite becomes the film it wants to be, but it does often get close. It’s rather nice that, even today, which is a time when corn tends to be avoided, we can still get a movie where – for example – somebody is giving birth in an exploding hospital in London and, as her yells get louder and louder, so do the explosions.