Brad Pitt goes to war for love

Brad Pitt goes to war for love

Review: Allied

(M) Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard

In North Africa during World War II, the atmosphere is turbulent and nothing is certain for the life of an undercover operative. Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) are thrown together for a mission in Morocco that will mean they need to trust one another implicitly as husband and wife – despite never meeting prior to their assignment. Through the intense pressure of the operation and the emotions that come from spending time together in close quarters, they fall in love.

After the frenzied stint in Africa, the couple decides to get married. After getting things processed through England’s immigration gauntlet, they commence their lives together with Max working for British intelligence and Marianne fulfilling her role as wife and mother to their beautiful daughter, Anna. The former operatives live a euphoric life together until Marianne’s loyalty to the wartime effort is questioned. Max must investigate the validity of the charges laid against his wife before the military is able to confirm if she has participated in treason.

Acclaimed director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) sets the stage for an adventure that is reminiscent of the golden era of cinema. The cinematography and the wardrobe are enough to  transport audiences back to the era of Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. The acting team of Pitt and Cotillard are, on the surface, a well chosen combination to move this story along. All the key components are in place for this production to deliver a box office winner, but this handsome vehicle breaks down as it travels along.

Zemeckis has been meticulous in the detail of look and feel of Allied; he manages to capture the atmosphere of North Africa and London during World War II. Where things go wrong with Allied is inthe scripting and the performances from the lead actors. War-time dramas do allow for some license for believability, but this script takes things to a new extreme. Making it difficult to accept the film’s message are plot points such as the undercover agents’ relatively easy escape from North Africa, the immediacy of their love for one another, and the simplicity of travel between England and Europe. Such script issues are accentuated by the lack of chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard. These accomplished actors have portrayed sensuality and relational tensions in other projects, but they fail to light the spark needed for this on-screen relationship. In particular, Pitt may look great in the period clothing, but he seems to be going through the motions and provides little passion.

What is promised by Allied is a beautiful love story but, like a mannequin, there is no heart under the wardrobe. As a result, the overall experience is less than satisfying and becomes a wasted opportunity for Zemeckis and all involved.

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

Throughout human history, the label of traitor is something that no one wants applied to them. Yet, people still choose to betray relationships, countries and even God for any multitude of reasons. From Adam to Judas, betrayal is seen throughout the Bible, too. How does God respond to those who betray him? He may surprise you with the judgement – and the love – that is offered to those who betray him.

Passages on treason: Genesis 3, Luke 6:27-38, John 3:16, Hebrews 9:28

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger

 

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