Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Caplan
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Running Time: 124 mins
Allied is an American film about an American officer who works with female French Resistance fighter on a mission in Casablanca in 1942, during which time they fall in love. However, after their mission is complete and they seek a quieter life in London, their relationship soon becomes strained by the Second World War.
This is a pretty entertaining film. With some excellent central performances and slick directing that brilliantly pays homage to classic war dramas, Allied is a very pleasant and engaging watch, whilst it also impresses with a good few intense scenes that provide the height of the film’s emotional drama. That said, it’s a real slow-starter, and never really manages to provide a pulsating and enthralling story, which can leave you bored from time to time,
Let’s start on the bright side, however, and talk about the film’s settings. The first forty minutes of the story take place in the Moroccan city of Casablanca in 1942. A clear tribute to the 1942 romantic drama Casablanca, director Robert Zemeckis does an excellent job at making the setting look as stylish as possible, and creates a convincing wartime surrounding for the story of our two main characters to take place.
Following on from the first act, the film then moves to Britain, where the couple live a much more settled life than back in Casablanca. Once again, Zemeckis’ depiction of wartime London is very effective, and with all-round very impressive costume and production design, this film’s style really helps to make it such an engaging and entertaining watch.
The convincing nature of the settings is also a part of the overall film’s homages to classic war dramas. Although in some of the action scenes, everything feels a lot more modern, when we’re focusing simply on the relationship between the two main characters, it actually takes on an approach similar to that of classic Hollywood, including more static cinematography, more theatrical performances, and greater focus on the passion of romance within the context of the Second World War.
As I said, the two lead performances are a big part of that. From start to finish, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard have excellent chemistry together, effectively portraying both of their characters’ mutual love and regular tensions. Cotillard is particularly impressive, playing a classic-style femme fatale that has a palpable dominance over Pitt from the first time they meet, something that gives the relationship that develops over the course of the film an extra tension.
There’s a lot to like about this movie, but there are also a few problems that mean it’s not quite the seminal war drama it perhaps wants to be. Whilst it definitely impresses in mimicking the style of classic Hollywood, as well as providing some very emotionally intense scenes, particularly in the second and third acts, it’s not the most enthralling watch over the whole two hours.
The biggest problem with Allied is the pacing in its first act. Whilst Casablanca is a stylish and exciting setting, everything plays out very slowly for the first forty minutes, and even though there’s a couple of action scenes here and there, it’s never a particularly tense or romantically passionate watch, meaning it took me a good while to get fully interested in the story.
Also, whilst I said that the classical style in the film’s quieter moments was a positive, it can lead to some frustrating points. Occasionally, the transition between the modern, fast-paced and visually exciting action sequences to a much quieter dramatic sequence can feel a little abrupt, and it takes a little too long to get back in the groove of watching a classical Hollywood-style film, which led me to feel a little bored and frustrated from time to time.
Overall, however, I really enjoyed Allied. Sure, it’s not the most memorable or enthralling drama ever made, but it’s a stylish, well-directed and well-acted drama that pays great homage to classic Hollywood. It’s not a perfect film, and its first act is very slow-moving, but it can provide some exciting drama all the same, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.