Movie review of “Allied”: Stars shine brightly, but this old-fashioned film misses the mark of the movies it’s imitating. Rating: 2-and-a-half stars out of 4.
Robert Zemeckis’ wartime romance “Allied” feels old-fashioned, in ways both good and bad. It’s the sort of movie that has, sadly, gone out of style: a sweeping period drama more interested in emotion than in special effects, and a film seemingly designed for the big screen, in which we can bask in the glow of a pair of gorgeous actors’ faces. And yet, too often it feels like a shallow copy of the movies it’s imitating (“I’ve loved you since Casablanca,” says a character, managing not to wink), shot on exquisitely decorated locations that look more like soundstages than actual streets and homes.
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, both of whom are very much ready for their close-up (particularly Cotillard, who’s given a delicious movie-star-turning-to-the-camera first shot), play Max and Marianne, a pair of devastatingly attractive World War II operatives who meet in said Casablanca for a secret assignment in which they pretend to be husband and wife. Bullets fly, sandstorms whirl, satin gowns are fetchingly deployed and love prevails. Soon, we’re back in London for a wartime wedding, watching as Marianne gives birth on a gurney on a London street during the Blitz — and, eventually, learning something that questions their future together.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Allied,’ with Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, from a screenplay by Steven Knight. 124 minutes. Rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use. Several theaters.
That knowledge, acquired roughly halfway through the film, seems to upend “Allied” and make it a trickier, better movie, at least for a while. Suddenly Cotillard’s performance seems to become more complex, and you finally see the chemistry between them that the early part of the film seemed to lack. Zemeckis lets us, for a while, get lost in the actors’ eyes, and in the way Cotillard can shade an entire scene with a tiny twist of her mouth, or a barely sideways glance. But “Allied” runs out of steam before its overwrought ending. It’s as if the film, struggling under the weight of the classic epics it recalls, just gives up. At least we’ll always have Paris.