by Tony Medley
Runtime 116 minutes.
OK for children.
While this is a WWII war
story, its stars are Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, so naturally
it’s a romance, too.
Max Vatan (Pitt) meets
Marianne Beauséjour (Cotillard) in Casablanca in 1942. They have had no
prior connection but they pose as a married couple and carry out a risky
adventure against the Nazis and, in true Hollywood fashion, fall in love
and get married for real.
Directed by Robert
Zemeckis from an original script by Steven Knight, this turns from a war
story into a romance into a thriller. Zemeckis wanted the film to be
sort of a homage to Casablanca (1942), so he based the story
on a Hollywood-invented “Intimate Betrayal Rule” that’s akin to
Casablanca’s preposterous “letters of transit” McGuffin. I had never
heard of the Intimate Betrayal Rule before I saw this film and can find
no mention of it anywhere. It sounds ludicrous on its face, so I’m
pretty confident that it’s just a dramatic device created to build up
the tension. The bottom line is that they both work in a Hollywood
But that’s not the only flawed plot device; the premise is flimsy, to
give it the best spin.
Max and Marianne are
linked for the purpose of assassinating the German Ambassador. Really?
Parachuting a special agent from Britain into Morocco to kill the German
Ambassador to Morocco is hardly akin to sending someone to Vienna to
assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, an SS General who was leading the
Holocaust. Why would The British Special Operations Executive send
someone to North Africa to kill an unknown Ambassador?
Also, what devolves
results in the film making no sense at all if you think about what has
happened to lead up to the denouement. But I can’t discuss that here
because it would be a horrible spoiler.
Zemeckis also shows that
it was pretty easy to get in and out of occupied France before D-Day.
Just get in a light plane and fly in, wait around and fly out. No
problem, at least according to Hollywood!
Since Casablanca is now
a lot more cosmopolitan than it was in 1942, the Moroccan scenes were
filmed on location in the Canary Islands with lots of VFX special
effects which Zemeckis says allowed him to “recreate the cities of
Europe and North Africa in the 1940s and do it without facing an
impossible amount of building.” When Max and Marianne walk into a night
club, it looks a lot like Rick’s. The production design (Gary Freeman) is
Despite all the plot
holes, this is an entertaining film if you don’t think about them (this
is, after all, a movie), and highly romantic. If you want logic, read
Aristotle; if you want an enjoyable, entertaining few hours, see this