Set in 1942 following a French-Canadian spy who falls in love and marries a French agent during a dangerous mission in Casablanca. He is notified that his wife is likely a Nazi spy and begins his own investigation of her.
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Overly glossy and dramatically inert, with a phoned-in, cringe-inducing score and a pointless epilogue, and Pitt more wooden than a forest in Normandy. And yet... Zemeckis carries us along on this Hitchcock theme park ride thanks to several expertly constructed set pieces and some handsome production design.
A modern day version of the type of war/espionage film that Billy Wilder would make. Doesn't reach Wilder-like heights, but the fact that I'm even making that reference should be proof that it's one worth watching.
The end, typically Spielberguian, is of a pathetic rhetoric and puts in question much of what has been achieved until there. That is, a rhythmic narrative of the Hollywood ways, with two key moments, on the same level as a Peckinpah, the sequence of childbirth during the bombing and the assault on a prison in France. Already the fuck during the sandstorm recalls the heavy hand with who Zemeckis usually signs.
We're entering an odd paradox where the last two Brad Pitt films are mirroring reality (By the Sea showing the argumentative side of him and Angelina Jolie, and now Allied showing how close both he and Marion Cotillard have become). In all seriousness, however, chalk this up as a great surprise for me; loved the odes to New Hollywood and minute details of craft, and both Pitt and Cotillard have remarkable chemistry.
Zemeckis film takes too long to get to the central issue and when it does, solves it too quickly and without real emotional impact. For a movie about spies, Allied had very little suspense. It still has its moments and the photography and production design are exquisite, but it's hard to get past how bland it was. It tried to be Casablanca but missed the nostalgia, the passion and the longing. A missed opportunity.
Much off-screen speculation surrounded this film, which turned out to be complete hokum. One reason could be how electric the chemistry is between Cotillard and Pitt (remember the Friends analogy as a litmus test - if there's chemistry on screen, they're behaving off). Zemeckis is prone to schmaltz, but some sequences elevate this film beyond the formulaic. A thrilling war-time espionage piece.
Zemeckis has created quite the old fashioned Hollywood war film here, well scripted by Steven Knight, which positions itself as a solid 'star' vehicle for both Pitt and Cotillard. It hits all the right marks but still winds up, in the end, feeling contrived. Artistically the film is well crafted with an authenticity in period well portrayed. But in the end 'The Engiish Patient' it ain't.