"Allied" is so beautiful to watch --- Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt are stunning together. Director Robert Zemeckis, who has had a strong and varied career, has fashioned a truly romantic love story against the backdrop of World War II. "Allied" may not be considered perfect, but it's a wonderful example of the way movies used to be made.
One of my favorite scenes is the opening which finds Canadian intelligence officer, Max Vatan (Pitt), literally dropped by parachute into the Moroccan desert in 1942. He begins travailing the sand dunes when out of nowhere a single car appears. We tense as he touches his gun, but relax as it's merely his chauffeur come to pick him up. It's a classic moment with no dialogue, the kind I have always loved.
He delivers Max to Casablanca, completely changed and looking incredibly dapper. He is to meet his "wife" --- "look for the hummingbird" --- Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard), already at dinner with friends --- German friends. Marianne is a French Resistance fighter, and she and Max have an assignment to assassinate a German official.
Miraculously, Max makes it back to London where he awaits the arrival of Marianne. Despite their best efforts, the two have fallen hopelessly in
love --- a no, no for two field operatives. But they are determined to marry, and all seems well, until a British intelligence officer (Simon McBurney), with a higher rank than Max's boss Frank Heslop (Jared Harris), informs Max that Marianne may be a German spy. He is warned against trying to prove otherwise, but when has that ever stopped anyone --- especially another spy?
"Allied" is very much an old-fashioned spy thriller, except for a rather steamy sex scene set in Max's car in the desert while a sandstorm envelops the automobile. Cotillard and Pitt are well-cast --- they are both gorgeous! And the magnificent clothes they wear by costume designer Joanna Johnston make them even more desirable.
Pitt dons the most fitting linen suits and fedoras in Casablanca. But another favorite scene --- a Sunday afternoon picnic with his family --- showcases Pitt in slacks, sweater and suede jacket, an outfit which accentuates his great looks perfectly.
Cotillard is equally well-dressed and coiffed. Her day dresses are fashion timepieces and her gowns are simply divine. Both she and Pitt are such accomplished actors and they make it all look so easy. The chemistry is real, though, which is what boosts the appeal of "Allied".
The screenplay by Steven Knight is crisp and neat. There are no wasted words, especially the rooftop scenes in Casablanca when Max and Marianne must look and play married, while they're constantly being scrutinized.
Cinematographer Don Burgess has photographed a truly impressive film, and composer Alan Silvestri has completed the entire package with a sensuous soundtrack. Not many films like this come along anymore, so if this genre holds any interest for you, you must see "Allied".
Opinion: See It Now!
Imagine being told your spouse is a foreign spy who must be executed by your hand, or you yourself would face a firing squad. That's the dilemma Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) must confront in the latest Robert Zemeckis-directed thriller.
Of course, faced with the same ultimatum, Jeanne would pause momentarily, then ask "Where's the gun?" But I digress....
French beauty Marion Cotillard shows why she won an Oscar in 2008 for "La Vie en Rose", and why she may be in line for another nomination. Her character, Marianne Beausejour, is on a military mission in North Africa during World War II, and her allegiance to the French Resistance appears genuine. The original screenplay by Steven Knight ("Dirty Pretty Things", "Eastern Promises") will have you absorbed with both its quiet moments --- as the two stars get very acquainted --- and with a few action sequences that are unexpected and stunning. The beauty of "Allied" lies in the fact that the plot keeps us guessing.
Pitt is never better than when he plays a war hero. If you somehow missed "Inglourious Basterds", find it. His last combat film, "Fury" (2014) is also an impressive venture. With "Allied", Pitt's stature as one of our finest actors continues to climb.
The supporting roles are mostly filled with unknown character actors, but British veteran Simon McBurney is perfectly cast as the British officer who levies the espionage charge, and Matthew Goode, one of Jeanne's favorites, has a rather gruesome cameo.
As for Zemeckis. he just keeps churning out the hits. "Allied" joins classic films like "Back to the Future", "Forrest Gump" and "Cast Away", just to name a few, assuring the director's legacy as one of the all-time greats.
Opinion: See It Now!