Friday, November 25, 2016

"Allied" Is A Flawed Yet Ambitious Star Showcase


Robert Zemeckis is someone who's responsible for such classics as Back To The Future, Forrest Gump, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? As you watch this film, you get the sense that Zemeckis is trying to create another classic by making a film with a period setting and its movie star romance, joining the ranks of films like Casablanca and The English Patient. It does so with admirability yet also to its own detriment.

Allied follows the story of a Canadian spy named Max Vatel played by Brad Pit who is assigned to assassinate a Nazi general
with the mysterious Marianne Beausejour played by Marion Cotillard. As they pretend to be a married couple, they eventually fall in love and start a family. But thingst take a turn for the worse when Marianne is accused of being a Nazi spy.

Now Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are both perfectly casted. They both have the right old school movie star aura that fits a period film such as this. It helps that their performances are good as well. While the film centers more on Brad Pitt's character, Marion Cotillard makes the most of what she's given, always keeping up with the various tonal shifts that take place throughout the film as she gets to be sensual, enigmatic, and frail. Another great performance from a very consistent actress.

Another major highlight is the costume design, in particular on the character of Marianne, which is absolutely spectacular. I loved how luscious and otherworldly the design on Marianne's clothes was because it helps capture her mystique.

Speaking of tonal shifts, the film starts off as a sexy actioner and then it starts to have more Hitchcockian flare towards the second act once Max becomes suspicious of his wife. While it is neat to see a film weave in as many genres as it can, at the same time, the film loses its momentum once its pace becomes smoother.

Personally, I think the film would've been better if maybe the film builded up to the Nazi general's assassination at the very end. It would've made the tone more consistent and pulsating throughout. I also would've left out the mystery surrounding Marianne out because, and hopefully I'm not spoiling anything, but by the time the reveal took place at the end, it felt like such a big copout. So I think the filmmakers would've maybe benefitted from ommitting that storyline entirely.

Also, while Pitt and Cotillard are able to shine in their performances, pretty much everybody around them is underutlized. The supporting players like Matthew Goode, Lizzy Caplan, and Jared Harris all see their talents go to waste. In fact, Matthew Goode literally has like 2 minutes of screentime.

So overall, while Allied tries so hard to become another Casablanca with its depiction of glamorous star actors falling in love against the backdrop of WWII, ultimately it ends up being faulted by its aspirations. I do applaud Robert Zemeckis for trying to recapture a golden age of filmmaking. But if it had more rewrites, it could've perhaps been a classic for the history books.

Grade: B-