Magazine article Screen International

Allied': Review

Magazine article Screen International

Allied': Review

Article excerpt

Dir: Robert Zemeckis. US. 2016. 124mins

If you fell in love with a spy, could you ever truly trust her? That question drives Allied, a World War II romance-thriller that starts offsmartly but sputters to an underwhelming finale. There's palpable chemistry between Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, and director Robert Zemeckis exhibits a cool confidence as he executes this knowingly old-fashioned espionage drama. But once suspicion is raised about the seemingly happy spy couple, Allied struggles to fully capture the paranoia and uncertainty that can eat away at even the most stable relationships.

Opening in North America on November 23 and the UK two days later, this Paramount release features big names but, also, a whiffof scandal because of Pitt's recent divorce and rumours suggesting that he had an affair with his Allied co-star, a charge Cotillard has forcefully denied. Tabloid gossip will no doubt raise Allied's profile, and sturdy grosses seem assured.

When Max (Pitt) and Marianne (Cotillard) first meet, it's in Casablanca in 1942 as they pose as a married French couple. But they are actually spies for the Resistance who are plotting to assassinate a German ambassador. Their dangerous mission proves successful and, along the way, Max and Marianne fall for one another, impetuously marrying and moving to London to start a family. But after the birth of their first child, Max receives upsetting information from British intelligence: Marianne has been working as a German spy the entire time she has known Max.

With a skilful script from Steven Knight (writer-director of Locke), Allied is a film that can be divided into thirds. In the first section, Max and Marianne go undercover in Casablanca, the sexual tension between these spies undeniable. The movie then segues from taut action-thriller to a portrait of wartime domesticity as the newlyweds adjust to their life in London. And then in the final third, Max lays a trap for Marianne to see if she is, indeed, working for the Nazis, while at the same time doing some investigating of his own.

Allied's first two-thirds are its sharpest, Zemeckis craftily ramping up the suspense before audaciously shifting tones once they get married. Cotillard's enigmatic beauty and Pitt's suave handsomeness make them swoon-worthy spies who can't resist their electric attraction. …

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