Scripted by the brilliant Steven Knight and directed by Robert Zemeckis, Allied is a throwback to Hollywood's golden age. Glamourous stars sizzle onscreen in a big budget period piece. The film is equal parts romance and thriller. It succeeds much more often than it fails. A few tweaks could have made Allied a classic. It doesn't quite get there, but is definitely captivating. Marion Cotillard absolutely towers over this film. Brad Pitt is able, but his sensual co-star smolders.
In 1942, a Canadian soldier, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), clandestinely parachutes into Nazi held Morocco. He's on a secret mission to rendezvous with a French resistance agent, Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard). The pair must play a married couple, reunited after months apart. The heightened danger leads to a titillating romance between the spies. They fall madly in love. But is it real? Seduction and deception are the keys to espionage. All may not nearly be what it seems.
Allied has its share of bullets and bombs, but the intrigue between the leads is the selling point. Marion Cotillard is utterly captivating. She's fierce, feminine, and sharply intelligent. Brad Pitt is the tough guy. He's decent, but without her, his performance would be somewhat staid. Cotillard is like the fire to his gasoline. She sparks him into combustion. The result is a fiery romance that powers Allied like an engine.
Robert Zemeckis knows how to stage epic scenes with strong character focus. Much like he did with Forrest Gump, Allied puts the leads intimately in big situations. There's a pivotal scene at a dinner party that is just beautifully shot. Zemeckis, a protégé of Spielberg, is all about money shot effects, but has the skill to never overshadow a dramatic moment.
The glitz and sex don't always make up for a lack of continuity. Allied makes a few leaps in time that detract from the believability of the plot. Steven Knight is a concise writer, so maybe these were editing decisions by Zemeckis. I'm not a fan of characters just showing up somewhere, then there's a backstory fill in as to how they got there. Allied had an opportunity to really take these characters to fruition, instead of jumping around in the narrative.
The production design and costumes are first rate. The look of the cast goes a long way to selling the historical aspects. I suppose when you have a budget, every actor can dress the part. Cotillard oozes finesse and refinement in her costumes. She revels in wearing the pretty clothes. Some actors don't look natural elegant, she certainly has a penchant for it.
From Paramount Pictures, Allied is the date movie to see this Thanksgiving. It's a thematically dark story and a solid romance. Cotillard and Pitt are a dynamic duo under Zemeckis. Steven Knight can do no wrong as a screenwriter.