I’ve been a fan of Brad Pitt’s work for awhile and he has undoubtedly earned the role as one of America’s best actors out there. See: Interview with the Vampire, Legends of the Fall, Se7en, Fight Club, Inglourious Basterds, Moneyball, Babel… I keep go on and on. So now that he’s teamed up with Marion Cotillard (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), I was curious what they’d accomplish together.
Allied features Pitt as an American spy who arrives in Nazi-filled Morocco in 1942. His role is to play the husband to another spy (Cotillard) and to take out an influential Nazi leader. Their fake marriage begins to blossom into something real. The big lure of the movie, which actually doesn’t take place til substantially far into the plot, is that it turns out she might be a German spy. Can he trust her? Can he love her? Let’s find out.
Both Pitt and Cotillard deliver outstanding performances, just like you would anticipate. Both of them show an incredible amount of range and depth. This movie is on their shoulders alone, yet they propel each other to great heights. Pitt, as his character descends into paranoia, shows off a side we haven’t seen in awhile, an unhinged and unpredictable man who can’t trust anyone. Cotillard delivers a nuanced performance in the fact that you never know if you can trust her. Every sweet smile has an edge that leaves you guessing.
It’s really this mystery that makes this movie memorable. The tricky thing is that to make this mystery mean something, they had to give substantial screentime to their blossoming romance. There had to be stakes in all this. This is a catch-22, as dedicating this much screentime to how they fell in love is both necessary and also likely the biggest complaint about the movie. I’m glad it was there, as the mystery over her allegiance felt earned.
What doesn’t work?
This movie was pitched as something it’s really not, so you need to know what to expect.
There are a few moments that are action-packed. A few shootouts, a few chases. But 90% of this movie is about their romance. It’s either how they fell in love (the entire first half of the movie) or him trying to find the truth and if that will change how he feels for her. This is a drama, with a few action moments. Don’t go in here hoping for a guns blazing World War 2 action movie, this isn’t that. It’s a romance.
This also affects the pacing. It feels slow. The movie is relatively long and it doesn’t have to be. The pacing feels even more off if you’re expecting these action scenes, so every long take or every walk through a corridor feels even longer. It could’ve benefited from some trimming here and there.
If you go into this movie with the right expectations, you’ll love it. It’s a character piece, where both Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard get to shine. Potentially even award-winning performances. The pacing is a bit slow though and the entire first half of the movie is dedicated to their blossoming love. This might upset you, if you expect a war movie in the traditional sense. This movie might appeal to viewers that are okay with a slow burn that definitely pays off with an intriguing mystery.