Tuesday, November 29
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
2016 Romance War Drama
2 hours 4 minutes
From Paramount Pictures
Here is a chance to take in some stylish escapism. If one doesn't expect too much, one is likely to find it enjoyable from the beginning to its surprising conclusion. For me it felt a bit old-fashioned and while I like that a great deal, some may not.
It concerns an RAF wing commander who parachutes into Morocco in 1942 on a mission to kill a German officer but is first informed that he will be working with a beautiful French resistance worker and that they must pose as husband and wife. After they leave the desert for London, they fall in love, marry for real and have a daughter.
As the previews (which I saw countless times) beat into my head, she comes under suspicion as a German spy. He is to find out for certain and if so, his mission is to kill her. Whether she is or not is infused in that surprising conclusion. The previews also allow one to think that this is a big action film and there is where the disappointment will be for some, especially men. This is not a Brad Pitt action war film like Inglourious Basterds or Fury... far from it. Yes, there is some action but this is primarily a romance drama.
The first part is supposed to be in Casablanca (actually the Canary Islands) and it evokes the film Casablanca as well, although in no way does it come up to those standards. Max (Pitt) and Marianne (Cotillard) feel somewhat like Rick and Ilsa battling the Nazis as they battle with their love. Interestingly, both films also end on an air field.
For me and I suspect it will be so for many others, the highlight of the piece is without question the luminous Cotillard. What a dazzling piece of french pastry she is. I think I wax rhapsodic about her every time I review her in a film. Most of the acting is left to her and she always delivers.
Let's discuss Pitt. Is he tiring of acting? It seems so to me. He gets more and more wooden in his roles. I dare say his character would have been a tad more excited under the circumstances. I saw little difference in how he reacted to Cotillard as opposed to the bad guys. On the other hand, for someone who is usually unkempt in his roles, he cleaned up pretty well for this one.
The supporting cast performed admirably but were not given a lot to do. Matthew Goode is totally unrecognizable in one brief scene. I wonder why he did the film and I wish he'd get his career back on track.
Longtime Zemeckis collaborator, cinematographer Don Burgess, lends an air of period authenticity. There were some wonderfully exciting shots starting with Pitt parachuting into the desert. Another was Pitt and Cotillard getting it on in a small car on the dunes while a sandstorm envelops them. Good stuff and aided so well by a great production design and art and set direction.
Zemeckis is known for the Back to the Future series, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Flight and the last film I reviewed of his, The Walk. Allied is not likely to wind up in his basket of better films.