By Elisa Rossi
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play spies in love in a steamy World War II drama where there are more romantic fireworks than tanks and explosions.
Depending on what you believe, “Allied” is either a Robert Zemeckis-directed period spy thriller or “the movie that broke up Brad Pitt’s marriage,” but watching Pitt parachute down into Morocco as the film opens might make you expect more of a James Bond-inspired flick.
Instead, “Allied” turns out to be a slower wartime romance in which Pitt plays Max Vattan, a British assassin sent to Casablanca to kill a high-ranking Nazi officer. We see early on how deadly Max can be, but he’s been assigned to create the ruse of being married to Marion Cotillard’s Marianne Beauséjorge, an equally deadly French agent.
Pretending to be married eventually drives them closer together and Max and Marianne decide to get married for real, despite the warnings from Max’s commander (Jared Harris). Marianne soon becomes pregnant as they settle down in England to lead a more domestic life. That tranquility is shattered when Max learns that Marianne may actually be an undercover Nazi spy.
There was a time when the romance displayed on the movie screen was so palpable, moviegoers believed the actors were truly in love. While that might not be the case here, there are clear parallels drawn between being an actor and being a spy, another job in which you must pretend to be someone you’re not. The fact that Pitt is in the midst of a divorce off-screen will probably have some viewers reading into the chemistry of the leads in “Allied” during the love scenes.
The Casablanca section of the movie is just fine, a slow burner that gives us some idea what their characters are capable of, but things get far more interesting once Max needs to track down the truth about his beloved wife and mother of his child. Lizzy Caplan has a small role as Max’s lesbian sister, but she, like the rest of the supporting cast, tends to get overshadowed by the film’s two leads.
Either way, this is a solid script from Steven Knight (“Eastern Promises”). And Zemeckis is more than capable of making every aspect of it work on screen with an old-school brand of filmmaking. “Allied” offers a minimal amount of action, such as a shoot-out in Casablanca that isn’t quite on par with Tarantino, and a few scenes of London being bombed by Axis planes.
The ending is quite grim if you’re expecting any type of old Hollywood ride into the sunset, but if you enjoy slightly awkward romance during wartime, “Allied” is worth a fling.