Thursday, 24 November 2016

Allied: Film Review

Allied: Film Review

Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris
Director: Robert Zemeckis

You must remember this.

A kiss is just a kiss.

There's a great romance to 1942's star-crossed lovers flick Casablanca, and director Robert Zemeckis tries to swathe his latest, a drama about a French resistance fighter and a Canadian intelligence officer who meet behind enemy lines, in a lot of that too.

But unfortunately, this is more Casa-blankly than Casablanca.

Kicking off in North Africa in 1942, where Pitt's Max Vatan drops out of the sky, floating into the dunes like a fallen angel, the story puts Cotillard's Marianne Beausejour in cahoots as the duo plot an execution on a German ambassador.

Reuniting later in London after the mission ends, and picking up after a sandstorm tryst saw them succumb to each other, Max finds his loyalties tested with an assertion that all is not as it seems....

For a film titled Allied, there's an irony that this feels like a flick of two disjointed halves.

The first that's supposed to set up the romance and build the romantic tension and bond between Max and Marianne is a bitter disappointment, lacking in time to let moments develop and jumping around to get to the crux of the conflict.

Suffering from an exclusion of time to dwell, the time-hop serves only to stiffen the pair's relationship and point out their relative lack of chemistry, while heightening the fact the scenes that are supposed to tie us to the characters are missing as some of the emotional beats fail to hit their mark.

Which is a shame as the largely terrific and at times should be taut back half of Allied kicks it up a gear (and simultaneously shoots itself in the foot with a French set escapade that feels like something from Dad's Army and Allo Allo). Although it suffers from what's preceded it with tension without suspense and romance without heart play out, as it hurtles towards its denouement.

It's a shame because in among the stifling and stultifying story, there is some wonderfully evocative period detail and terrific costuming that is redolent of old school Hollywood romances. And certainly in the second half, Pitt's portrayal of a man struggling with the moral dilemma of love or loyalty is marvellously underplayed and relatively effective.

But what cripples Allied is the fact there's a palpable lack of thrills, a disturbing absence of tension and suspense when there should be as it climaxes and an overall nagging feeling the whole thing is slightly underwhelming despite its old movie star sensibilities.

Hollow and unsatisfactory, Allied is dressed in such old Hollywood charm and draped in such wonderful attention to detail that you realise you've spent a great majority of the film gawking at its clothes and its setting rather than its story and the lack of chemistry between its stars.

Ultimately, that proves to be a fatal flaw in the film that aims for heart-breaking but can barely stop its audience at times from emitting a yawn.

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