Sunday, January 22, 2017

Movie Review: ALLIED

In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. They join forces, disguised as husband and wife, but after spending precious time together, both realize that their fictitious roles might just be a truth for the both of them.

When Robert Zemeckis makes a film I am sure to be there, he has graced the silver screen for four decades with quality pictures for worldwide audiences, always maintaining a romantic sensibility without ever loosing a masterful sense of filmmaking and storytelling. Allied is once again a solid, well told story that reaches for all audiences out there.

The film has a slightly sloppy introduction, switching from solid moments that are building to something, to poor character development with the two leads. Fortunately Cotillard and Pitt have enough chemistry and charm together that the audience just goes through the first act without really feeling the weight of the problems that fortunately eclipse with the main bulk of the film.

As I said the two leads aren't well developed in the first half. Whilst you get a very clear sense of who these two individuals are and what lengths they are willing to go for their cause, with some very surprising and raw scenes, you don't get a logical understanding of why they fall in love. Certainly you feel the connection, but the film never really shows you why the two start to appreciate each other. It  doesn't build up their relationship, rather it just introduces it.

Still, when we get to the second act in London, much of this is erased thanks to some really good work by the actors and Zemeckis. They manage to, in a way, reintroduce us to the new lives of these people and we really buy them as a couple. Pitt and Cotillard go really far into their performances with one another and there is a sexual undercurrent to the whole film that, whilst slightly sidelined, does emphasize moments that make you understand this marriage deeply.

So on a level of romanticism, the film does trip in different moments with a slightly gratuitous build up of their relationship, but overall when you look at it moment by moment, there is no denying that it is, unsteadily, built up to some very intense emotional depth that is vital for the thriller aspect of the film to succeed.

Which, transitively, it does and is probably the most fascinating aspect of the feature. The middle hour of the film is definitely its best moment and were it not for the lesser start and finish, it would have added up to a great film. The inciting incident comes far into the movie's length, but once it does it kicks off a relentless pace that keeps you on your toes, guessing for a very long time.

Zemeckis manages to build tension upon tension in a master's way. The structure of the screenplay supports the veteran director into making a sequence of scenes that is a breathtaking, edge-of-your seat experience, which mixes a very good emotionally deep component to the setting of World War II, producing a miss-en-scene that captivates the viewer's attention. Every moment is built up with set-up, reminder, and pay off and you are never lost in the mix. Everything's always clear, the motivations are constantly solid and you route for the hero without reservations.

Just as it's partially uneven beginning, the finale of the film is a notch below its main focus. There are moments that hit home, and Cotiallard gives her all in her last scenes, bringing some really intense performance work to the screen. Unfortunately though, the film just looses a little steam with a couple of coincidences and an ending that doesn't really build onto a convincing climax, but rather to a more clich├Ęd-romantic one.

Allied anyways remains an underrated romantic thriller with fantastic and lush settings that manage to bring to life a time and a place which support a story that has much flare to spare for any kind of audience.

James' Score: 7.5/10 

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