By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Allied has some exhilarating moments and serves well as a thriller, but slightly misses the mark of reaching Oscar glory. What starts off as an engaging and well crafted first act, dies a little towards the finale from excessive romance and cardboard acting from Brad Pitt.
Canadian RAF pilot Max (Brad Pitt) and French resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Cotillard) fall in love after a dangerous mission in Casablanca during WWII. After building a life and having a child in London years later, new complications arise that may tear the new family apart.
I really want to give this film four stars as I did enjoy it, but I just couldn’t handle the romance. It seems that Director Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump, Cast Away) wanted to make an Oscar worthy film but was unsure of the standard formula to follow.. Well, judging by this year’s nominations apparently there is no said formula. Allied did snag a nomination for Best Costume Design however, which it more than deserves.
Incredible attention to detail has been put into production design and cinematography as well. From the striking opening shot of the Moroccan desert to the tiny Swastika engravings on the German poker cards, they’ve really thought about this. Generally the war scene visuals were quite subtle, but very effective in producing the background chaos surrounding the couple’s already turbulent problems.
The scene where they attack the German ambassador (August Diehl) in Morocco was fantastic and seemed to hold some similarities (maybe deliberate ones) to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, where Diehl also played a Nazi, and Pitt was also in the resistance.
However, I left the cinema unsure if I’d seen a typical dad movie… or a typical mum one. The World War II action and presence of Brad Pitt, who has now been in three war films, suggested my father be seated next to me, while the sudden erratic jumps to romance suggested that my mother be there instead. The cuts were brutal and rushed, as was the general progression of events after Morocco.
The sudden leaps through time probably have to do with the fact that the story is a word of mouth tale heard by writer Stephen Knight. There was no historical evidence of the real thing, and how do you portray a story over so many years in a two-hour feature film? I could see Allied being a promising TV series.
You’re supposed to believe that the couple have been together for years and have had a child, but you never really get the sense that they know each other all that well. There was something missing from their on screen chemistry. Cotillard had it all as the tough as nails resistance fighter, while Pitt was… well, he just was. Seems like he was in a bad place trying to play this character.
Go into this with as little knowledge as possible, and you’ll enjoy it. I think the trailer gives too much away and I also don’t think it does the film justice. Though predictable at times, there are still plenty of interesting twists and turns in this film.
Photo: Roger Ebert