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Marion Cotillard Shines In Romantic WWII Thriller 'Allied'

To watch her in 'Allied' is to witness an actress working at the height of the powers.

07/01/2017 12:02 AM IST | Updated 11/01/2017 2:16 PM IST
Dylan Martinez / Reuters

Allied is a WWII period drama film directed by acclaimed American filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in the lead roles.

Made in the vein of classic WWII romantic thrillers, Allied offers a brilliant concoction of war, drama, romance, suspense and intrigue. Zemeckis's great attention to period detail is evident in every frame: be it the outdoor war scenes or the indoor party scenes. He brilliantly succeeds in setting the mood and the tempo from the word go.

If you are in love then 'Allied' may break your heart. If you want to fall in love then it may make you change your mind.

Had Allied been made by Steven Spielberg, it would have been a major contender for this year's Oscars. But then Spielberg would have scaled up the canvas to the scope of an epic. That, however, would have defeated the movie's purpose somewhat, for Allied is never meant to be an epic. It is essentially a tale of love set in the backdrop of the WWII, with an espionage angle. While the first half of the movie is set in 1942 Casablanca, the movie doesn't really intend to imitate the Humphrey Bogart classic.

At the heart of Allied are a British serving officer of Canadian origin and a beautiful French woman he must collaborate with to assassinate the German Ambassador. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are great in their respective roles. Pitt here plays a thinking man's spy. As for Cotillard, what can one say about her? Even James Bond would dream of a muse like her. It is difficult to think of another actress, from either past or present, who can be described as such a perfect blend of elegance, beauty, brains, grace, ferocity, vulnerability and oomph. In Allied, we get to see her in all her glory. At one time she is tantalisingly seductive and at another she looks like a deity of calmness and serenity. To watch her in Allied is to witness an actress working at the height of the powers. And Zemeckis, to her credit, succeeds in making those theatrical moments look so life-like.

It is difficult to think of another actress, who can be described as such a perfect blend of elegance, beauty, brains, grace, ferocity, vulnerability and oomph.

Allied is endlessly engaging as a suspense thriller but it never really allows the romance to build. That's where the movie feels a bit rushed. Perhaps, it is by design! Zemeckis probably wants us to feel the characters' longing and so he rarely serves us with those gratifying moments. Maybe he is also constrained by the movie's two-hour duration. An additional 40 odd minutes may have helped Zemeckis develop the romance à la Doctor Zhivago. Another area where Zemeckis falters is the movie's final act. Climaxes can make or break movies and although Zemeckis goes for a rather operatic climax the surprise element is somewhat missing. The result is an extraordinary movie with an ordinary climax. The denouement, however, does offer an emotional closure but it could have been more intense. The elements of espionage are very much there but they don't attain the level of brilliance in works of John le Carré.

If you are in love then Allied may break your heart. If you want to fall in love then Allied may make you change your mind. For, it is not easy to fall in love. It is even more difficult to remain true to it.

Rating: A-

A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.

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