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With: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Simon McBurney, Matthew Goode, August Diehl, Daniel Betts, Marion Bailey
Written by: Steven Knight
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
MPAA Rating: R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use
Running Time: 124
Date: 11/23/2016

Allied (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Spy Is Just a Sigh

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Deliberately evoking Casablanca (1942), director Robert Zemeckis proves with this wartime romance that he is, like Michael Curtiz, a highly skilled craftsman, and a maker of solid, efficient entertainments.

In Allied, intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) gets a new assignment. It's 1942 and WWII is raging; he is to meet French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) in Casablanca, Morocco, and pose as her husband. They will be invited to a party where a German ambassador will be present, and their job is to assassinate him. They escape, but have now fallen in love. They move to London, marry, and have a child together.

Life is good until Max is called into headquarters. He is told that his wife is a spy, sending covert information to the Germans. Max believes she is innocent and embarks upon a dangerous mission to confirm that Marianne actually is who she says she is. If he fails, he is required to execute her, or face the consequences.

Following Flight (2012) and The Walk (2015), Zemeckis has lately embarked upon a new, mature chapter of his career, not totally shying away from visual effects and big moments, but more closely focusing on characters and their powerful longings and emotions. He seems to be choosing empathy and compassion, getting behind his characters 100% no matter their failings or drawbacks.

Technically, Allied is beautifully constructed, with smooth, polished camerawork and editing, as well as evocative music and design; it's never self-consciously arty, however. A love scene in a car, surrounded by a desert sandstorm is beautiful, if just a teeny bit silly, but a raucous party sequence, peppered with fear and paranoia, is totally engrossing.

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are letter-perfect, not only looking the period, but also generating a warm, vivid onscreen chemistry. This is one of those movies like they used to make.

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