Frothy spy romance meets grim World War II drama stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard Discuss this article

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What’s your pleasure: a light, frothy spy romance or a grim, hard-hitting World War II drama? How about both at once, sometimes in the same scene? Allied sets itself up as a modern answer to Casablanca: the early scenes are set in that city under German occupation, and like the beloved Bogart ‘n’ Bergman classic it combines a star-studded love story with a dark depiction of betrayal and hardship. But director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, The Polar Express) is no Michael Curtiz. Where Casablanca glided seamlessly from swooning passion to stark reality, Allied lumbers like a rusty tank, crushing any semblance of subtlety.

Luckily the film has plenty of surface charms, chief among them the sight of Brad Pitt filling out a flight suit, with Marion Cotillard oozing glamour on his arm. He’s Max Vatan, the Canadian assassin sent to Morocco to murder the German ambassador; she’s Marianne Beausejour, the undercover French Résistance fighter tasked with easing his passage into Vichy high society. Their marriage is only pretence – at least until the job’s done, at which point Max asks Marianne to be his wife for real. Cue domestic bliss? Not quite.

Perhaps it’s an intentional nod to those Hollywood oldies, most of them shot on LA backlots, but Allied feels entirely fake, in particular Pitt and Cotillard’s clunking, wooden relationship.

And yet, bits really do work: there’s a clawing tension to the later scenes, as marital bliss turns sour. Pitt’s anguish is truly convincing. Here’s a man who feels his world slipping away, piece by piece. And even if some of his actions are flat-out ludicrous – endangering an entire Resistance cell for his own peace of mind, for instance – we still feel for him, as the noose tightens.

Allied attempts to balance joy with heartbreak, and never fully manages either. But fans of old-school stuff won’t be disappointed.

The bottom line
Not the new Casablanca, but it’s never dull.

By Tom Huddleston
Time Out Doha,


  • Duration: 121
  • Released: Wed, 23 Nov
  • Language: English
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Stars: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris

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