December 3, 2016

Smarty Movie Review: Allied

Allied
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Rated: R
Run Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes

I practically jumped out of my seat when I first saw the trailer for Allied.  It’s rare these days for Hollywood to produce a mature romantic thriller.   I’m also a huge fan of movies set in the 1940’s and especially World War II stories.  Plus, whether you were team Jen or the now defunct team Angelina, Brad Pitt is still easy on the eyes so it sounded like a win-win situation!mv5bmja0mtkzmdi1mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjqxnde0mdi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_

The year is 1942, and Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt) parachutes into French Morocco on a mission to kill a high-ranking German official.  He enters the city of Casablanca to meet his new co-conspirator Marianne (Marion Cotillard), a beautiful French resistance fighter who has used her beguiling charm to befriend several prominent Nazi supporters.  Marianne has fabricated a marriage to Max as cover for their secret mission and the two strangers gamely pose as lovers as they plot their assignment.  Of course, when you look as beautiful as they do and you live together in close quarters, your emotions might get the best of you.  If your mission is extremely dangerous (and you probably won’t survive through the night) you might do a little canoodling in a car during a sandstorm.  No judgement!

Luckily, the pair survive the successful mission and a smitten Max asks Marianne to join him in London to be his wife for real.  She happily accepts, and the two settle down in the suburbs and have a baby.  All seems fine (except for the occasional air raids) until one day when Max is called to his superior’s office.  It turns out that his beloved wife might actually be a German spy!  This sets in motion a series of efforts by Max to prove Marianne’s innocence without raising suspicion from his colleagues or his wife.

The first act of the film is great as Max and Marianne flirtatiously spar with each other during an incredibly tense and dramatic time.  The Casablanca scenery is gorgeous and the costumes are incredibly beautiful.  The story becomes less successful once the pair settles into life outside London.  The time from the wedding to the baby’s birth (during an air raid!) to life in the suburbs passes in a blink so it’s hard to feel real growth in the couple’s relationship.  The vivacious Marianne also becomes quite content to settle in with her new baby as a housewife, letting her hubby continue to fight the Germans even if it’s now from behind a desk.  I’ve got nothing against stay-at-home moms (considering I am one) but it’s a pretty big shift going from a machine-gun wielding warrior to a lullabye singing mom!

The biggest fault with the film is Brad Pitt’s performance.  I get that he is trying to portray a stoic officer, but his performance is wooden and dull.  Considering all of the talk about an on-set romance between the leads, I would have expected major chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard similar to the heat between Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  While it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t nearly as smoldering as I had expected.  Pitt does still look pretty (even after all those kids with Angie and a pending divorce!).  Cotillard is much more successful portraying the role of Marianne, but she doesn’t get to do as much heavy lifting in the second act.

Even with its faults, Allied is still a good movie.  It’s just not as great as it could be—especially since it pays homage to one of the greatest war time love stories ever—Casablanca.  If you want to pay tribute to a gem like that, you better pull out all the stops.  Allied is definitely worth viewing at a matinee show, but for true perfection, find a showing of Casablanca and let Bogart and Bergman show you how it’s really done!

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