I tried to convince myself for awhile that I saw a good movie, but I just couldn’t do it. Allied is a World War II film not based on any specific true story, it doesn’t serve as a direct metaphor of any cultural hot topics, and so it should be classified as something that rarely gets made these days: Melodrama, which in definition, is a sensationalized dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting historical events serving as a backdrop. I love melodramas! There should be more movies made more often that say, The Hell With It, today it’s a World War II melodrama because there are just not enough of them at the multiplex!
The first half, set entirely in Casablanca with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as spies who are paired together by separate secret agencies and fight off love in order to put the mission first, is languorously paced yet enjoyable spy lifestyle revelry. Both do some of their finest acting by under playing their interest with each other, but, come on, they are way too beautiful the both of them to resist! Cotillard is playing the type of brilliant woman who out-talks every man in every scene and reduces him to fuddy duddy, that means Pitt too. There’s a grandiose love scene set against a sandstorm, and no ordinary woman would initiate a such a thing. But this is foxy Cotillard we’re talking about.
The mission is bloody, it has Tarantino-like juice to it. But it’s quickly over with. Pitt is a Canadian intelligence officer who gets Cotillard’s French resistance fighter marry him. They relocate to war-torn London in the final stages of the war (there’s some dramatized vivid bomber plane blitzes on London). She has their baby, but he is still in service. Their lives are bliss until – espionage intrigue (!) – it is suggested to Pitt by his superior officers that his new wife is not who she claims to be. Pitt’s superiors ask to entrap her, and if she is guilty of being a spy, he must execute her. Of course he could sabotage his orders in a number of ways, but then, in the vise of melodrama, he really needs the truth about his wife for himself.
“Allied” had a number of good second half scenes, and yet it had me sighing in dismay. I wouldn’t say the movie hinges on the baby, but that baby is far too conveniently placid, for not once does the baby cry while on an unpleasant car trip. And our two characters throw a loud, rip-roaring party at their home – something parents of a one-year old would never do in any era, and if they did, I doubt they could get the baby to sleep through the raucous. But what I really shook my head over this: I never felt Cotillard was the same character we met at the end of the movie that she is at the beginning. She’s suddenly quivering, monosyllabic, and gee, a small woman. For that, I kind of felt betrayed. Director Robert Zemeckis (“Cast Away,” “The Walk”) brings all his usual epic storytelling expertise to the table, he starts with juicy melodrama and has the intelligence to make good tearjerker melodrama (this isn’t it), but with this production, I feel all he left behind was common sense.
124 Minutes. Rated R.
WAR DRAMA / ADULT ORIENTATION / SATURDAY NIGHT SIZZLER
Film Cousins: “Casablanca” (1943); “Hope and Glory” (1987); “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2005); “Inglorious Basterds” (2009).