FILM REVIEW - ALLIED
Running Length: 124 minutes
Release Date: 25th November 2016
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Simon McBurney
Written by: Steven Knight
Cinematography: Don Burgess
``Pitt has confused 'acting' with 'smelling something bad'``
This is not the same Robert Zemeckis that directed Back to the Future. It’s not even the Robert Zemeckis that directed Forrest Gump. No, this is the Robert Zemeckis that made The Walk, and he seems to have lost his mojo. Allied was obviously intended as a homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood – with a bit of Casablanca here and a dash of Notorious there – but this World War II drama is more parody than pastiche.
Allied kicks off in 1942, with Canadian RAF officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) parachuting into the Moroccan desert. Vatan has orders to assassinate the German Ambassador, and he heads off to Nazi-occupied Casablanca to rendezvous with his contact, Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard). Marianne is a member of the French Resistance, and acts as cover for Max by posing as his wife. She plays the part so well that Max falls head over heels in love with her, and the couple consummate their relationship with some awkward looking sex over a stick shift in a sandstorm.
Once the Moroccan mission is complete, Max says, “Come with me to London and be my wife.” Easy peasy lemon squeezy. So for part two, Max and Marianne head off to a life of domestic bliss back in England. But all is not rosy in Max’s garden, as it turns out that Marianne might be a German spy. Simon McBurney’s shady V Section agent sets up an elaborate sting operation to discover the truth. If Marianne isn’t who she says she is, then Max has orders to kill his wife. Which does seem a bit unreasonable when you think about it.
By rights there should be a ton of narrative tension in this “is she/isn’t she” subplot, but Zemeckis and Peaky Blinders scribe Steven Knight can’t find it with both hands and a flashlight. If the sandstorm sex doesn’t have you biting your knuckles, then watching a bunch of midwives wheeling Cotillard out into the street to give birth in the middle of the blitz will destroy any lingering scraps of credibility. So by the time that Matthew Goode shows up in crusty burn face prosthetics (Oh hi, The English Patient) for a solitary rushed scene, it doesn’t seem all that bizarre alongside everything else that’s going on. This story really is a complete shambles.
Both Pitt and Cotillard certainly look the part. While he’s got the matinee idol look, Pitt just can’t emote. At all. Here he confuses “acting” with “smelling something bad,” and he stops just short of pulling a “not sure if serious” face to convey his suspicions. When she’s not fawning over her husband, Cotillard spends a great deal of screen time talking about making a stroganoff. Seriously. This is not the stuff that Oscar nominations are made of. “Your French is good” she tells Pitt at one point, “but your Parisian accent is terrible.” Glad she said it first. Allied is a ridiculous mess, but neither the cast nor the creatives seem to be in on the joke.