Intriguing War and Romance Film
Movies about war, no matter what era, continue to draw a big audience. Throw in a romance, maybe a few spies, some great actors, and an award winning director, and it’s a recipe for success. That’s the result Robert Zemeckis (The Walk) achieved with his intriguing Allied, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.
It’s 1942, and 26 countries have just aligned into the Allied Forces to fight the Nazi threat overrunning Europe. Pitt plays Canadian airman Max Vatan, a British Special Operative assigned to eliminate Germany’s ambassador. Fortunately Vatan will not proceed alone in this assignment. Parachuting into occupied Casablanca, he’s to meet up with another secret spy. Given specific directions -- down to describing what she is wearing and where he will encounter French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard, Midnight in Paris). Max spots her immediately. Assigned to impersonate a married couple, Marianne and Max don’t have to pretend for they are immediately lusting after each other. Diving into a sexual encounter in a small car, they are almost carried away by a sandstorm -- car and all. That scene ends up being somewhat funny.
Days pass as Marianne and Max languish in their romantic relationship after really getting married but also maintaining their assignments. It’s interesting how they celebrate their honeymoon. Every night Max must sleep all night on the roof of the building – a tradition of newlyweds Marianne tells him. But is there more to this situation? One problem Marianne -- a French school teacher -- is soon aware of involves Max’s French accent, which pegs him as Québécois when he should sound Parisian. The two work on that, but sex and joviality seem to be first on their daily schedules. Still, they do pull off a surprising assignment before being assigned to England where they become proud parents.
For Max, his family elation is threatened when he’s brought before his boss Frank Heslop (Jared Harris). Heslop tells Max that Marianne is a double spy and is doing her job undetected by Max, who throws a fit knowing it’s not true. But he must carry out his order to go along with a test Marianne won’t be aware of. If Max refuses he faces threat of execution.
Thanks to Zemeckis’ focus, the tone of the film fits each transition well. The moments of war threats and danger are vivid, but the love scenes are extremely realistic. Pitt shows no sign of recent weariness or concerns, and Cotillard appears charming, alluring and quite sexy. They make their characters believable even while dealing with diverse subject matter.
Many who have seen the film acknowledge that Allied feels nostalgic like the war or romance movies of the 40s and 50s, which seems very apparent here, especially when Max first enters a beautiful and swanky bar very much like the one in 1942’s Casablanca.
Just as war itself is often unpredictable, what happens to Max and Marianne emerges as yet another deep breath in arriving at the truth. I found the film entertaining, and occasionally a nice reminder of the past.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “R” for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.