There is so much to like about “Allied” that I can easily forgive the elements that don’t quite work. Yes, it’s true that there isn’t much chemistry between the leads (Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard) and yes, there are a handful of unintentionally ridiculous scenes that may make you inappropriately laugh out loud (a baby is born during a blitzkrieg), but fans of good old fashioned, Golden Age of Hollywood style cinema will undoubtedly find much to savor about this film.
More of a wartime romance than an action thriller, “Allied” tells the story of Canadian RAF intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt) who is sent to Casablanca in 1942 to team up with French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) on a top secret mission. The pair are to go deep undercover and must pretend to be husband and wife. Just when you think you know where this story is going (and yes, it does go there), a few surprising twists crop up — most notably when Marianna is accused of hiding her identity as a German spy.
The lack of romantic chemistry between the leads hurts the film a bit, making their love story (while compelling), less than believable. Both actors are quite accomplished and everyone, including even the smallest of the supporting performers (Lizzy Caplan, Jared Harris), delivers. Director Robert Zemeckis, following his (undeserved) 2015 flop “The Walk,” is able to coax devastating and sincere performances from his cast, and I was emotionally invested in every aspect of the story.
In fact, I think Zemeckis is one of the unsung masters working today. He’s often overlooked for his proficiency and skill in turning intricately focused, small scale stories into something truly extraordinary. By concentrating on one small component within a larger scale, big picture event, he delivers a World War II period film that looks and feels like it’s supposed to — and one that’s incredibly polished in its intelligent script and graceful visuals. This is a beautifully shot movie with a extraordinary amount of old-timey, damn good-looking visual flair. It’s old fashioned yet contemporary, exceedingly elegant and stylish, overflowing with detailed period costumes, scored with vintage music, and features breathtaking hair and makeup.
There’s an appropriate amount of intrigue and numerous twists, turns and unexpected surprises which never feel gimmicky. There are even a few homages to war films of the past, from the copycat softly lit cinematography of “Casablanca” to the action scenes (and camera angles in a basement) that mirror Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
While it may be forgotten when stacked up against the Hollywood war classic greats of yesteryear and modern day, “Allied” is a satisfying escape that’s sure to resonate with those who are addicted to watching the Turner Classic Movies channel. Plus, it’s simply a really, really good wartime romance.
Matt was unavailable for review.