By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is of a film that I manage to catch at the Phoenix Leicester. A cosy and snug theatre was the perfect setting for an intimate war drama.
Robert Zemeckis brings to the world Allied starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard and Jared Harris. The sensational British writer Steven Knight penned this drama.
Allied has created a stir amongst critics, and now I would like to offer my thoughts…
In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.
I’ll get this out of the way early, I enjoyed Allied. Before the film began, my expectations were low due to a few critics that I admire not being fans of Zemeckis’ latest work. With me knowing their thoughts prior, it possible helped me enjoy Allied even more as I could purely be open-minded to that fact that it could be brilliant, or absolute tosh.
Luckily, as the run time is over two hours, it was more in the positive bracket for me. There are several factors where Allied shines and I think without them, it would have flopped. The movie benefits from the writer, Marion Cotillard and Zemeckis’ experience.
Firstly, Steven Knight, take a bow. The film for me is victorious in the writing. Allied is a movie of two halves. The first hour is about Pitt and Cotillard’s blossoming relationship in a war-torn northern Africa. From the outset, we know full-well that the pair were always going to be an item, but it Knight’s writing style that makes it interesting. He ties in wider issues with the war and villainous characters so it isn’t so smooth. It could have easily been a ‘mushy’ romantic drama but Knight prevents this. The second half is even better. The essence of paranoia is sprinkled over every sequence and it makes for an edge-of-your-seat climax. I think Steven is one of the best screenplay writers working today.
The second masterful element is Marion Cotillard. Throughout the two hours she is letter-perfect. She holds the screen with her elegance and striking appearance, but she also knows when to linger at the camera. She has a mystical aura about her and it fascinates the audience. It’s rare to find Marion turning in just an adequate performance these days. She’s a diamond in her field.
The last factor that polishes this film off is the director himself. Robert Zemeckis proves his talent with this wartime romance as his experience shines through. He seems to have a more mature approach to filmmaking. He used to have lavish visual effects, which he doesn’t desert here, but he also uses more tender techniques. Along with Allied, he also used close camerawork in his previous outing of The Walk, which benefitted both films. On this occasion, we feel a lot closer to the action like we are on the journey with Pitt and Cotillard. He closely focuses on the characters and their powerful longings and emotions. He seems to be choosing empathy and compassion, getting behind his characters no matter their drawbacks.
Overall, Allied is an intelligently constructed film from Knight with a finessed finish from Zemeckis. The music, set design and editing all play huge parts in Allied and each scene is carefully measured. A party sequence that is peppered with fear and paranoia, is totally engrossing thanks to all the components creating a thorough, old-fashioned feel that could easily date back to the specific period. I think Knight and Zemeckis have delivered one of those big, conventional movies "like the ones they used to make."
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
Allied screened at the Phoenix Cinema all week – certificate 15