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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Allied

A high pedigree doesn't save Allied, a glacially-paced World War II romantic thriller without many thrills and a couple with no chemistry. The screenplay, by Steven Knight, even dares to set part of it in Casablanca. I'm surprised the characters didn't visit Rick's Cafe Americain.

Brad Pitt plays a Canadian intelligence officer who is parachuted into Morocco to assassinate the German ambassador. He is teamed with French resistance agent Marion Cotillard, and they pose as husband and wife. After they successfully complete the mission, they marry for real and have a child and live happily in London.

A year later, Pitt is told that his wife is an impostor and is suspected of being a German spy. They will give her false information and if it ends up being given to the Germans (I guess the Allies had Enigma by then) they will know she is guilty. Pitt sets out, against orders, to prove them wrong.

First of all, the film Casablanca forever ends any other World War II film being set there. It just does. If that weren't enough, we do not see but hear about a woman playing "La Marseilles" on the piano in a room full of German officers, so Knight seems to be toying with us. Secondly, Pitt is completely wooden, and it's hard to know why Cotillard falls for him, other than the obvious reasons (and such are the obvious reasons for Pitt falling in love with her, but at least she's more animated).

And despite what's at stake--Pitt will have to execute her himself if she's guilty--there is little tension in this film. It's as crisp as a wet cardboard box. A few scenes stand out, as when Pitt visits a colleague that knew the woman who Pitt married before she was supposedly killed, and there's a nice twist at the end (that soldier is played by Matthew Goode in a searing cameo). Also, Lizzy Caplan plays Pitt's sister in a lesbian relationship--that might have been a better movie, and is left hanging there.

The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who hasn't had a stand out film since Forrest Gump, unless you count Cast Away (I can go either way on that one). He's been busy with animated films like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol, all in a style that has left some creeped out. Allied might have been better as an animated film.

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