10 January 2017
Allied is a suspense-laden drama driven by suspicion, mystery and dilemma.
Although some of the significant action in this wartime romance/spy thriller may take place in the famous Moroccan city Casablanca, unfortunately Allied is no Casablanca, in the sense that it isn’t about to become a classic.
While the film was still in the laboratory we were bombarded with speculation regarding the lead actors Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard and the breakdown of Pitt’s marriage to Angelina Jolie. The question that many people asked is whether or not the alleged dalliance was actually a publicity driver gone wrong. A messy business, indeed.
Allied sees Pitt as the dashing Canadian Royal Air force intelligence agent Max Vatan and Cotillard plays Marianne Beausejour of the French Résistance. After Max valiantly parachutes into Morocco, the two are thrown together in a secret mission to kill a nasty Nazi and go under cover as a married couple. Surprise, surprise, they fall in love and it looks like the future is going to be rosy as they settle happily in England.
Years after they marry and have a child (during the Blitz) it’s revealed that the Special Ops believe that Marianne may in fact not be who she purports to be.
We’ve seen this sort of scenario many times before (aside: will we will ever run dry of ideas generated by World War II?), but in the hands of the brilliant director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump and Back to the Future) the plot finds an exhilarating freshness that is also very pleasing to the eye.
The screenwriter Steven Knight (Amazing Grace and Peaky Blinders) alleges that this is a true story related to him 30 years ago while travelling through the USA.
For most parts of the film Pitt appears withdrawn and almost walking a performance treadmill (and his hair is inappropriate for the era, but I’m being picky). Cotillard on the other hand is a powerhouse as the mysterious, slow-burning, always on the brink of dangerous spy turned Highgate housewife and her wardrobe alone is worth the price of admission.
Also worth mentioning is the always solid Lizzy Caplan as Max’s sister and Jared Harris as Max’s demanding, commanding officer.
In many ways, Allied is a tribute to the Hollywood "golden age" with a tip of the hat to Hitchcock as the suspense builds to an emotional peak.
Highlight: Marion Cotillard in a powerhouse mainstream performance
Red Flags: Mature themes, sexual references, coarse language
This article was first published in The Salvation Army's WarCry magzine.