The Marion Cotillard Show
Allied (2016): In 1942, an intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.
Allied is solidly mixed bag. Two tales thrown into one, director Robert Zemeckis continues his quest to find his touch again, this time with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. One of them shows up and does everything they can to help Zemeckis out, and the other does not. These polarizing performances, combined with a very rushed second half, leads to a mixed bag. This despite a strong first half. So let's jump in, shall we?
So, let's talk about the acting. As I said, we have an extremely polarizing performance from our two leads. I bet you can guess which one was great, right? For as terrible as Brad Pitt was, Marion Cotillard proved yet again why she is one of the most underrated actresses (and we'll include her male counterparts, for that matter) in the business. She props this film up with her performance and does everything she can despite getting ABSOLUTELY nothing from her counterpart, Brad Pitt. For as mysterious, intriguing, and emotional as she is, Brad Pitt is pretty much the exact opposite. He is dull, boring, and lazily going through the motions. It was actually quite frustrating if I'm being honest. On the one had Cotillard was clearly doing everything she could to drag Pitt along, but Pitt just wasn't having it. He didn't even try to have a British accent. Or anything other than an LA accent. I wasn't 100% sure where his character was from, but it certainly wasn't LA.
Equally as polarizing are the two halves of this film. The first half was massively gripping, as we watch these two characters meet for the first time and have to immediately convince a group of Germans that they're husband and wife, but I think this half was as gripping as it was thanks to Cotillard. She is given a lot to do and explains a lot of her motivations and reasoning in this half that I was, like Pitt, captivated by. But then the second half rolls around and the story shifts over to Pitt, and it became a lot less interesting. Additionally, I have to harp on the effects and cinematography. Zemeckis stayed mostly invisible throughout the film, but the few times he did let his style come out it was not welcome. The effects, particularly as the Germans bombed Britain in the second half, were anything but great, and when Zemeckis decided to bring out some crazy 360 degree pans it really took me out of the moment. The most egregious was shortly after Pitt and Cotillard got married. There was some confetti during a 360 degree pan that just looked hilariously fake while we spun around with Pitt and Cotillard. Like that was an effect straight out of Polar Express and Beowulf.
I'm being so hard on this film because, unlike a lot of disappointing films out there, I really wanted this one to be good. And I did see some great sequences during this film. There's no doubt this film is better than Zemeckis's last venture, The Walk, but I do also think Zemeckis is still struggling to find the success he had in something like Forrest Gump, Cast Away, or Back to the Future. But there's a groundwork laid here that sets the stage (potentially) for finding it again in his next film. Hopefully then he won't have Brad Pitt around to ruin everything.
The Verdict: Despite a memorable performance from Marion Cotillard, Allied struggles to find the magic director Robert Zemickis had in his previous films.
The Recommendation: I think there's something to like here if you're into WWII flicks, or if you're a Marion Cotillard fan, but otherwise.....there are definitely better things out there right now.
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
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