World War II was fascinating to me and all the history surrounding the event is some of my favorite history out there. I studied history in college, and even before I decided on that as a major, the world of WWII was fascinating to me. A war that involved nearly every country in some capacity, unforgivable inhumanity, a major shift in the status quo of the world, its amazing. I also don't know how many of you know this, but I love a good spy thriller. Especially when there is a strong male and female lead to bounce off of each other. The possibilities for storytelling, theme and emotion in that category is endless.
"Allied," the new movie by Robert Zemeckis, is a movie right up my alley. I am the target audience here. Right from the opening frames, there was lots to appreciate it. Right away, it feels like you are in the early 1940's. I love it when movies feel like time machines, and Zemeckis creates his world with authentic realism. The cars, the music, the clothes, the culture, it all sucks you into this world and forces you to pay attention. So much so, that it took me a little bit to settle into the film itself, I was so engulfed in the world Zemeckis made that I wanted to just press pause and appreciate it all. This is an excellent example of a period piece that I have seen in awhile. But there is much more to the film besides some well made technical stuff.
What is "Allied" exactly? Some have compared it to "Casablanca," which is fair, but they are a bit different from each other. "Casablanca" was romantic and dramatic, "Allied" is much more in the vein of a thriller. Plus, "Allied" is much more rough around the edges. There is an assassination sequence that is every bit as brutal and bloody as you can imagine. The violence in the film doesn't feel like action picture violence and its over before it begins. Honestly, there isn't much of it at all. The movie is much more concerned with Max (Brad Pitt) and Marianne (Marion Cotillard), who meet in Casablanca in 1941 for an assassination on a Nazi official. When they meet, Marianne tries to make it look like her and Max are married. They put on a charade, spend time together, but eventually begin to really care about it each other. After the assassination, Max asks Marianne to come back with him to London to be his wife. She agrees, and they start a family. What surprised me most about all of this was just how much time is put into building their relationship. The first half of the movie focuses only on Max and Marianne getting to know each other. This is not some premise we have to buy into because the story demands it, we buy into the premise because the actors draw us in. We don't see that in a lot of movies, so when it happens, the movie is much better.
Especially since Max finds out a year into his marriage with Marianne that she is a German spy and that Max must kill her or be hanged for treason. This isn't a movie where we are just supposed to accept something due to a convenience, but the film earns it in every way. It helps that both Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard brought their A-game to this. We feel their emotions, they create a believable romance. I like that the romance in general isn't cheesy or unconditioned, but it merely feels like something real. They both make it real. They are accompanied by a stellar supporting cast including Richard Harris and Lizzy Caplan, both of whom also do good work. If you don't like a movie that takes its time to really set up its characters, so that we can believe whatever happens, then you may not like "Allied." This totally worked for me, though. The cast even allows to get soaked into the mystery of the film, and keeps us guessing all film long.
If you've got an appreciation for the old school, you may be mightily entertained by "Allied." Zemeckis paints a realistic, vibrant world and the story is rightfully told by both Pitt and Cotillard. There is so much to like here, so just let yourself get absorbed.
FINAL GRADE: A