Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard bring old-school glamour to WWII drama Allied

Back to Casablanca for retro espionage romance

Allied (M18: sexual scenes)

Starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Canadian Air Force pilot Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and French Resistance agent Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) fall in love behind enemy lines while on deadly assignment under the Allied Powers, posing as spouses to assassinate the German ambassador in 1942 Casablanca.

Why Casablanca? Because the World War II espionage romance thriller Allied directed by industry veteran Robert Zemeckis (the Back to the Future trilogy; Forrest Gump) co-starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard is Zemeckis’ homage to the 1942 classic Casablanca.

To Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941) and Notorious (1946) too,  as Max, mission accomplished, reunites with Marianne in London during the Blitz and starts a family, only to be informed by his commanding officer (Jared Harris) and British intelligence (Simon McBurney) that Marianne is a Nazi spy. If suspicions are correct, Max must execute her.

Max’s desperate chase for her true identity over the ensuing 72 hours takes the couple to a piano café, where Max all but says, “Play it, Marianne. Play ‘La Marseillaise,’ ” and ends on an airfield in the rain.  

Pitt and Cotillard are not quite Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Pitt, never an expressive actor, is a glassy blank. The French beauty Cotillard, though, is sultry and soulful. Cotillard keeps the suspenseful enigma alit through the emotional and ethical quandries in a test of personal versus political loyalty, pitting husband and wife against each other.

The two leads are a beauteous match, regardless: Pitt in his crisp uniform; Cotillard machine-gunning in a satin gown. This glamorous old-fashioned wartime melodrama professionally crafted by Zemeckis doesn’t have to be a particularly good movie to be pleasurable entertainment for its comforting nostalgia and knowing references. 3/5



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