Tuesday, November 15, 2016

“Allied”– Movie Review



This week, I attended a New York Times Film Club screening of the new historical drama “Allied”, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard and directed by Robert Zemeckis. 


During World War II, a military officer learns his wife may be a Nazi spy – but can he prove her innocence or will she have to suffer the consequences?


In 1942, Max (Pitt), an officer in the Canadian military, is dispatched to Nazi-occupied French Morocco on a dangerous mission:  to assassinate the German Ambassador stationed there.  Working undercover, he’s instructed to meet with Marianne (Cotillard), a member of The French Resistance, who will pose as his wife and work closely with him on this assignment.  When the time comes, they succeed in their operation, but now comes the hard part – they must escape.  Having developed a mutual attraction while preparing for this undertaking, they decide to flee to England, where they marry.

More than a year later, they are settled in London, happily married and with a daughter.  Their idyllic lifestyle is disrupted when Max is informed by his superiors that Marianne is suspected of being a spy; naturally, he vociferously denies the accusations, but when confronted with mounting evidence, he relents.  His wife will be tested in order to confirm their suspicions:  Max is provided with phony intelligence, which he will  leave out in the open.  The message will be tracked and if it in fact does get forwarded to The Nazis, then Marianne must be executed. 

Shaken, Max sets out to determine the truth for himself.  Is this some kind of tragic mistake?  Are his superiors merely testing his loyalty in order to decide whether or not he deserves a promotion?  Or is Marianne not who she has claimed to be all this time?  Their relationship suffers as he looks at her differently now.  As he investigates further, Max only becomes more confused because he’s getting conflicting information.  At this point, he realizes he must hatch a back-up plan:  If it does in fact turn out that Marianne is guilty, can Max smuggle the three of them out of the country?


Throughout his long and successful career, Robert Zemeckis has proved time and time again that he is a talented filmmaker; this is what makes his decision to direct “Allied” all the more puzzling.  In this movie, Zemeckis appears to have succumbed to the ultimate in narcissism – an attempt to remake the classic “Casablanca”.  In fact, that is arguably the most cringe-worthy aspect of the film – its attempt is so blatant that at times, you don’t know whether to feel insulted or to laugh at what may be some kind of perverse parody.  If the joke is on us, few may be laughing. 

Zemeckis is in no way subtle about his parallels between the two movies.  A woman with a foreign accent falls in love with an English-speaking man early in World War II (actually in Casablanca, no less!), then find their fateful relationship may culminate in the two of them being separated as the result of a noble act.  The final scene also takes place where airplanes are taking off and Pitt’s character is even provided his own version of Claude Rains.  When Hollywood runs out of ideas, they start recycling old ones – it’s just that they won’t always admit to doing so. 

Ultimately, it may be the case that “Allied” finds an audience and becomes somewhat successful.  Folks who like a tearjerker with an old-fashioned story might embrace this movie.  On the other hand, with the divorce between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie so much in the news recently, this film could get something of a lift – especially when you consider the rumors that Cotillard, Pitt’s co-star, is believed to have been the woman who assisted in breaking up their union as a result of having met Pitt during the shoot.  Somewhat fitting, considering Jolie was believed to have broken up Pitt’s relationship with Jennifer Aniston when the two shot “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”.  Et tu, Angelina?

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