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Allied (9/10)

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 movie!

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 outstanding.

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 film.