Allied: Of love in the time of war

Film: Allied 

Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, Lizzy Caplan, August Diehl

Director: Robert Zemeckis

At the outset let it be said, Robert Zemeckis’ new film “Allied” is recommended viewing for its tense espionage manoeuvres and the melancholy of doomed love. Like the Commie couple that cohabits and later falls in love in the TV series, “The Americans” Canadian intel officer Max (Brad Pitt) Vatan and French Resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Cotillard) Beausejour follow a similar trajectory of false identities after they first meet on a dangerous mission in Nazi-occupied Morocco.

The mission is successful and  Max arranges for Marianne’s relocation to London, where they marry, have a baby and are enormously happy. It isn’t long before the marriage is tested by the pressures of espionage.

Scripted by Steven Knight, this WW2 drama is defined by the passionate relationship of the principal characters. Except for the bombing of London and the assassination of the German Ambassador in a Casablanca nightclub, there are no battle scenes at all.

But the London blitzkrieg and the nightclub sequence are violent enough and numerous characters are killed, nauseatingly, graphically, at various points of the narrative. The camera may cut away quickly but the viewer sees enough to be startled and jump in his/her seat.

Referencing the 1942 classic Casablanca, Allied is a tightly structured tale, enhanced by exemplary camerawork and editing, as well as a polished production design and Alan Silvestri’s evocative music.

Mirrors are strategically employed to hint at double lives of  ruthless people  who will themselves be confronted by the horrors of espionage in the second half of the film though the deception is hinted at earlier on, in the air raid childbirth scene when a lead character cries out, “This is what I truly am, by God.”

Zemeckis and Knight use the wartime setting to addresses themes of courage, survival, deception, trust, truth and above all, love which heals everything, binds everything together in perfect harmony. Max hopes for the best, as he goes about his mission, clinging to the belief that all will be well.

As Max’s boss Frank (Jared Harris) who first cautioned him that “marriages made in the field never work”, later says, “everything will be in God’s hands.” The importance accorded to love then, is much to be praised in “Allied,” but Zemeckis has already shown us the cut of his cloth in his ouevre (The Walk, Cast away and Beowulf among others.)

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