Brad Pitt is a movie star plain and simple. Some actors are always excellent and are constantly nominated for awards, but don’t always draw throngs of fans to the theater, while other actors are both excellent and can draw crowds. Pitt has fallen in the movie star category since first making a splash in 1991’s “Thelma & Louise”.
Years, and many films later, Mr. Pitt is back in the new World War II drama “Allied” co-starring Marion Cotillard (“The Dark Knight Rises”). Pitt stars as Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan, who travels to French Morocco and teams up with French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) to assassinate the German ambassador.
The two pose as a married couple and have to convince those around them in Casablanca they are a loving couple, due to being closely watched by a neighbor of Marianne’s who just happens to be married to a German officer. Before the arrival of Max, Marianne has been living in Casablanca and has gained the trust of the Germans stationed and living there, so she must continue the charade even more when her “husband” arrives. The two are seen in public together and are eventually invited to a party where they plan to carry out the assassination. The duo succeeds, and Max convinces Marianne to marry him and move to London, as the duo have unexpectedly fallen in love during their mission. Max and Marianne make it to London where they marry, settle down in Hampstead, and eventually have a child they name Anna. The movie then flashes forward a year as Max is altered by the Special Operations Executive that Marianne may be a German spy. Upon hearing the startling news, Max feels the story is a complete fabrication, but reluctantly agreed to take part in a “blue dye” operation set in motion by the SOE. Max is ordered to write down a fake intelligence report in full view of Marianne and then leave it lying around to see if she will report the message to the Germans.
The really tough part of this operation is if Marianne is proven to be a spy, Max must execute her or be hanged for treason. While the SOE operation is in progress, Max begins his own private investigation in the hopes his wife will be proven innocent. At this point, I will reveal no more of the plot, as the ending is riveting, and needs to be left as a surprise if you plan on seeing the film. The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”), and he does an excellent of presenting the actors in the best light possible. The film is very “old Hollywood” in scope and style, yet still has a modern feel thanks to current special effects. Despite being set in the vastness of World War II, Zemeckis has given the film a very intimate feel, thanks in part to the effectiveness of his lead actors. Pitt and Cotillard very much own their respective roles, and have amazing screen chemistry.
Films set during war time have many unpleasant moments, as they should, but this film still manages to have some light amidst the darkness. “Allied” is a quality film you need to add to your list if you enjoy films set during World War II.
(Rated R) *** 1/2