The new classic?
How do I summarize “Allied” in one sentence? “Allied” is a movie whose first half wants to be a Casablanca-meets-Inglorious Basterds action movie (heavy on the “Casablanca” part) while the second is a melodramatic spy thriller (heavy on the “melodramatic”) that doesn’t quite succeed in captivating the audience.
The film is a story of Canadian intelligence officer Max Vitan (Brad Pitt, who I expected to start talking in Souther accent of Lt. Aldo Raines) and French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour. In the first half of the film they meet while working together in order to assassinate the German ambassador in Casablanca. They pose as a married couple, meticulously building an illusion of happy relationship for the benefit of nosy neighbours. Somewhere in the middle, the pretended emotions become real and after accomplishing their mission, the pair flees to London and gets married for real. Marianne gives birth to Max’s daughter in the middle of the Blitz. A year later Max, now working from behind the desk although the War still rages on, gets a call from his superiors. They suspect that Marianne may be a German spy. They organize a test of her loyalty, in which Max must cooperate, and in the event that it’s proven she is working for the enemy, he must also execute her himself. Is the whole thing a test? Is Marianne who she actually says she is? Or has his marriage been all a pretend?
OK, but seriously?
For all the neat little things – and there are plenty! – I left the cinema a bit disappointed. Brad Pitt is, well, Brad Pitt. He looks like himself but doesn’t get much too play – only in the last scene does his face seem to actually show some emotion. Marion Cotillard, on the other hand, really gets to shine as a woman both beautiful and dangerous. This quality seems to have become her Hollywood signature (her roles in Macbeth, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and Midnight in Paris come to mind). But for all their efforts, the movie is unbalanced and a bit predictable. The little tricks used in some of the scenes are fantastic – a quick and quiet murder staged to look like suffocation, a fancy card trick, some delightful background characters (Max’s openly lesbian sister who would not be present if the movie were made under Hays code). Camera closeups on reflections in the mirror, or seams of stockings are a hit-or-miss. The fashion is beautiful, but how many films can I watch just for the fashion?
“Allied” is definitely not going to be the next “Casablanca”. But hey, Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt are sure nice to look at.