"Deception is an art. Truth is a test. Is love a lie?" This is Allied. This war film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight. The film follows Max Vatan and Marianne Beauséjour who are World War II operatives who never reveal their true identities. After falling in love during a risky mission, they hope to leave all that double-dealing behind them and start new lives. Instead, suspicion and danger envelop their marriage as both husband and wife become pitted against each other in an escalating, potentially lethal test that has global consequences.
In early February 2015, Paramount Pictures and New Regency announced that Robert Zemeckis was to direct an untitled World War II romantic thriller, in which Brad Pitt would star and Steven Knight to pen the script. In early June 2015, Marion Cotillard was cast to play a spy along with Pitt, who fall in love during a mission to kill a German official. In August 2015, Knight said that the film would be based on a true story told to him at the age of twenty-one, and also that the shooting would start in January 2016. By February 2016, Jared Harris, Matthew Goode, Simon McBurney, Lizzy Caplan, Anton Lesser, August Diehl, Charlotte Hope, and Raffey Cassidy. At the same time, principal photography commenced, and wrapped in late May. Filming took place in London, England and Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. For the film's costumes, Casablanca (1942) and Now, Voyager (1942) were the inspirations, in terms of how they combined both simplicity and beauty.
The film stars Pitt, Cotillard, Harris, Goode, McBurney, Caplan, Lesser, Diehl, Hope, and Cassidy. This cast, especially Pitt and Cotillard, almost made the film watchable. It's just that the script and direction didn't do them much favours. There's a certain distance with which you view the characters, the involvement is not such that they stay with you after the film. We didn't really get heroes, not even flawed ones. Pitt, our marquee man, chases through numbing plot contortions only because of his lust for Cotillard's Marianne. By the time the film ended, I had barely a clue if the good ones had lived or died.
A beautifully flawed experiment, Allied is an entertaining if unbalanced war drama that places modern cinema mores on a classic style of American film when the Hayes code would never have allowed such overt sexual reality. The film is a movie wonk's triumph and no one else's. Zemeckis gets the visuals right but not the clean storytelling line of classic cinema, nor the iconic characters or moral certainty of the oldies. It is a homage to the romantic war films of the 1930s and 40s, a tribute that tries hard but, alas, misses the mark. While admirable as an example of directorial innovation and homage, the film fails to connect on a basic emotional level. Allied is the bad movie. Except for the ambience - the look of the film - it stumbles awkwardly on every level.
Simon says Allied receives:
Also, see my review for The Walk.