Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt in Allied (Photo: Paramount)
*** (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Robert Zemeckis
STARS Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard
Once the bread and butter of the movie industry, the World War II film has become a rarity in today’s Hollywood, tragically going the way of the dodo and the Western. Allied attempts to bring back some of that old-school glamor and intrigue, placing a moving love story at the center of a wartime espionage caper. The result is itself a rarity: an elegant and understated movie for adults, one that’s as unfussy as it is engaging.
Brad Pitt, no stranger to tangling with Nazis (starring in Inglourious Basterds and Fury, speaking out against Donald Trump), here plays Max Vatan, a Canadian intelligence officer whose latest mission pairs him with French Resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard). Their assignment involves posing as man and wife while plotting the assassination of an important German dignitary; perhaps inevitably, they end up falling in love and getting married, a union that turns problematic once Marianne is suspected by the British high command of being an enemy agent.
Far too many movies relying on a big reveal play their hands too soon, but that’s not the case with Allied: Thanks to Steven Knight’s smart screenplay and Robert Zemeckis’ understated direction, the picture keeps the is-she-or-isn’t-she? guessing game percolating until the end. Also crucial to the story’s effectiveness are the performances by Pitt and Cotillard, both making the mutual attraction and admiration between their characters palpable.
We’ll always have Casablanca, of course, but those wanting to catch an old-fashioned melodrama on the big screen are advised to fall in.