Allied (Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard) - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
TAKEN at face value, Second World War drama Allied has a lot going for it. A skilled director in Robert Zemeckis, two attractive and talented leads in Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard and a script by Steven (Peaky Blinders) Knight.
It’s also refreshing to find a film wholeheartedly prepared to opt for an old fashioned approach to its storytelling, as Zemeckis clearly attempts to invoke the spirit of the Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart classic Casablanca in its early scenes.
But sadly, the film that ensues struggles to capitalise on all of these tasty ingredients. Allied is a tame, slow-burning affair that struggles to ignite much chemistry and ends up feeling as though it’s been told from the wrong perspective.
The story picks up in Casablanca, in 1942, as two spies, Max Vatan (Pitt) and Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard), team up to stage an assassination of a high-ranking German official. Despite an initial distrust of each other, they soon become romantically involved and move to Blitz-hit London after their mission.
But their seemingly idyllic life is shattered when Max is told by his own top brass that Marianne could be a traitor, forcing him to race against time to prove her innocence or face killing her himself.
Knight’s screenplay certainly boasts plenty of intrigue, while Zemeckis directs with a keen eye for style. This is very much a romanticised war drama, complete with couples in smart tuxedos and beautiful ball-gowns.
But while certainly easy on the eye, the gloss can’t mask the film’s emotional shortcomings, especially as Pitt and Cotillard lack any real chemistry (possibly as a result of the former’s off-screen marital troubles). They’re not helped, either, by Zemeckis’s direction, which feels static for long periods, thereby depriving the film of a lot of tension.
There are moments when the pace quickens and the stakes are raised but the film seems caught between two styles, with the old fashioned elements struggling to co-exist with the more gritty action sequences.
But perhaps the biggest problem surrounding the whole film is the feeling it leaves you with. For while certainly poignant in its final moments, a change of focus inadvertently makes Allied feel like a woman’s story told from a male perspective.
Hence, Allied emerges as a curiously underwhelming affair that fails to do justice to the talents involved, or even the complexity of the story it is attempting to tell.
Running time: 124mins
UK Release Date: November 25, 2016