Skip to main content

Allied Shoots to be the Next Great War Romance

          Robert Zemeckis is really going out of his way to prove how versatile a director he is. Would you believe Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forrest Gump, and The Polar Express were made by the same man? Allied is just as distinct, at least from his previous works: a World War II romance about a pair of spies with the perfect title. Does he pull this off as much as his other disparate films?
          In the early years of the Second World War, Canadian intelligence operative Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is sent to Casablanca where he meets his liaison, a French Resistance fighter who’s infiltrated the local society called Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard). Working together on their secret mission, they soon fall in love and later marry. However the relationship becomes a lot more tenuous, at least for Max, when his superiors inform him Marianne may be a German spy. So Max in secret tries to dig up proof that his wife is who she says she is and save her from execution if she’s proven guilty.
          This movie is clearly drawing a lot of influence from classical cinema, especially Casablanca. A number of moments in the first act which is entirely set in Casablanca, as well as even in the latter half feel like almost direct parallels to that film. I can’t blame Allied too much as Casablanca is the gold standard for war-time romances. But there are a few moments where the similarities are distracting. For the most part the film overcomes this thanks to a pretty good tension-fuelled plot. There are a few scenes early on where the threat of exposure creeps up on our heroes, but it’s in the latter parts when the evidence builds up to implicate Marianne that you’re really kept attentive and very engaged with what happens next. Especially when certain developments make you second guess what the outcome will be.
          But this film probably wouldn’t pull any of this off if not for the terrific chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard. Pitt’s performance is smooth as always, but with a sincerity that makes his heartbreak at the idea of his wife being a spy convincing. And Marion Cotillard is not only stunning, but superbly committed, both in her skilled covert work in Casablanca, as well as her subtle suggestions of a duplicitous nature conveyed purely through the strength of her physical performance. The two work with each other very well and their romance comes off as very genuine. It’s built slowly which can dull the films’ overall pace but it makes you all the more invested when it looks like Marianne may have been faking her feelings the whole time. Though the film is concerned with these two front and centre, there are still good performances from a bevy of supporting players including Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, Anton Lesser, Matthew Goode, and Lizzy Caplan. 
          Zemeckis directs with confidence, knowing just when to focus on the characters and the circumstances. The cinematography is very good too, taking advantage of the ravaged London during an air raid, or the beauty of the deserts of Morocco. There’s one scene (a sex scene if you must know) that is shot with a surprising combination of intimacy and claustrophobia that stands out. And one thing I never thought would stick out to me about this kind of film is the costuming which is really appropriate for the period, but nonetheless radiant, especially on Cotillard. Again, it feels very much a callback to classic romances in this regard. Throughout the movie though there is definite melodrama to the romance, and for some it may be a little much. I don’t mind it for the most part, but by the end it is overdone and is trying too hard to again feel like a classic movie.
          If you’re a fan of war-time romances, Allied is probably one you’re going to like. And it has an interesting conflict and theme of how much you can trust someone. If you don’t care so much for this kind of film, you still may enjoy it for the expert direction, great performances, and well-executed tension. It may not be what its filmmakers’ intended, one of the best films of the year, but it is an engaging movie with more than a few reasons to see. I can assure you despite all the comparisons because of a similar set-up and leading man, it’s much a better movie than Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Popular posts from this blog

Mary Tyler Moore's Best Moments

A couple days ago, we lost the icon Mary Tyler Moore. On the Mount Rushmore of groundbreaking comediennes, Moore has an undeniable place (with Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Cloris Leachman). She was often the best part of the Dick Van Dyke Show, making for half of one of the greatest TV couples. Through her own series, she was a key part of one of the most important and timeless shows of all time. Her kindness, perseverance, and good humour made her a role model for all, but especially women and girls whose greater representation in media she pioneered. She was such an endearingly sweet woman, a champion of diabetes research and a great philanthropist. When watching either of her classic shows, she always felt like a good friend. And now the world has lost that friend.
          In honour of her passing, I want to highlight just some of my favourite Mary Tyler Moore moments both as Laura Petrie and Mary Richards, that attest to what a great comedic and inspirational talen…

Disney Sundays: Moana (2016)

When I heard that the next Disney movie, Moana was going to be based around Hawaii, I was tempted to say, “haven’t we been here before?’ It doesn’t feel like too long ago that we had Lilo & Stitch. I was more curious though when I heard it would revolve around Hawaiian mythological figures like Maui and fantastical monsters. But then I remembered Ron Clements and John Musker were the directors behind Hercules and I worried. However I needn’t have, as Moana is easily the pair’s best film since Aladdin.
          A teenage girl called Moana, resident of a small isolated tribe on one of the Polynesian islands, is chosen by the ocean to be an emissary to the banished demigod Maui and convince him to return the Heart of the Sea (a small pounamu stone) to Te Fiti -the goddess he stole it from who’s cursed their world with famine as retribution.
          Though this is a standard and fittingly mythic hero's journey, the story is nonetheless an exciting one to follow due in…

Overlooked Specials 12th Day of Christmas

12th Day of Christmas:
Blackadder’s Christmas Carol This Christmas Day how about we dispense with the feels in favour of a mean but comedically genius one-off of Britain’s best series. Even if you’re unfamiliar with Blackadder, the series about a witty schemer reincarnated through various periods in British history, this special should still make you laugh. An inversion of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Blackadder played of course to perfection by Rowan Atkinson is the kindest man in England which everyone uses to take advantage of him. But an encounter with a Spirit of Christmas causes him to change his ways. Most of the Blackadder cast: Atkinson, Tony Robinson as Baldrick, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Miranda Richardson appear here and are excellent, as are guests Miriam Margolyes, Jim Broadbent, and Robbie Coltrane in a role I’m sure inspired J.K. Rowling to request him for Hagrid. And the writing from Richard Curtis and Ben Elton is as sharp as ever. It’s relentlessly enjoyable, funny…