In 1942, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), an intelligence officer is sent to Casablanca to pair up with French Resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) and complete a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Inevitably they fall in love and after the war move to London, get married and start a family. All is well until Max is taken aside and informed that British Intelligence believe his wife is a German spy. He is then ordered to leave a message for her to find and if that message is then passed on to the German’s, they will know for sure. In the event of that happening Max must execute Marianne immediately or be tried for treason himself. What follows is Max’s desperation as he fights to prove Marianne is innocent, however he must do so without British Intelligence, or Marianne, finding out what he is up too.
The first half of the film focuses on the two of them meeting and falling in love. The aesthetics of this part of the film are fantastic from the setting to the costumes, everything is bright and vibrant showing a happier time in the couple’s lives. When we move onto the second half of the film in London, everything is a lot darker, contrasting the two halves to show a real difference in mood and character.
Marion Cotillard is by far the stand out of the film, she is capable of expressing so much emotion through facial features alone. There’s also a lot of scenes in which she speaks French (some of which I picked up without the use of the subtitles!) and it’s great to see her speaking her natural language. The French are so expressive when they talk and Marion really excelled in these scenes but also carried that throughout the film too. I’ve loved Marion ever since Inception (one of my favourite films) and this is another great role from her. She is both strong – waving guns around like a pro – and yet there is a vulnerability to her character when the British Intelligence start their investigation.
Brad Pitt is good as Max, but he doesn’t give off the same emotional connections as Marion does (possibly due to the fact that his face barely moves throughout). Although his character is technically the lead he is definitely overshadowed by Marion. Saying that, the scenes they have together are acted brilliantly. They really connected their characters, so the love story is totally believable and when Max is told of his wife’s potential betrayal you can feel the confusion and desperation as he fights to find out the truth.
The supporting cast is full of familiar faces, from Max’s sister Bridget played by Lizzy Caplan (aka Janice in Mean Girls), to Jared Harris (Lane Pryce, Mad Men) as Max’s boss, and the lovely Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey and The Imitation Game) – although his role is very small.
Overall, Allied is a very good film. The story line is full of twists and turns, with a very emotional ending you won’t see coming. Brad and Marion work well together but ultimately Marion is the real star of the film. It’s a little slow to start but once the action gets going there are moments of drama, tension and romance to keep you gripped to the end.