Entertainment

Cotillard, Pitt sizzle in wartime ‘Allied’

What It’s About

Two of our most alluring movie stars, Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt, sizzle on screen in “Allied,” a taut wartime tale of intrigue, romance and danger.

The film is a smartly done elegant throwback to 1940s glamor and a homage to the classic “Casablanca,” a good mix of contemporary filmmaking and deft storytelling.

Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is assigned to pose as French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour’s (Marion Cotillard) husband in Morocco in 1942. After they carry out their perilous mission, they reunite in London and marry.

But home life has added pressures during World War II, as Pitt works as a spy but Marianne is now a homemaker and mother. When suspicions arise that she might be a double agent, he must investigate.

Zemeckis, Oscar winner for “Forrest Gump,” skillfully builds suspense and weaves a compelling mystery. Screenwriter Steven Knight “Locke” never allows the story to sag or lose focus, and the war scenes are as sharp as the romance scenes are tender.

Performances

What has been admirable about Cotillard’s choice of roles since she nabbed an Oscar for “La Vie en Rose” in 2008 as an unknown newbie, is the parts play to her disarming strength as well as her beauty. She is one tough spy when needed, and then a loving wife and mother at home.

Pitt is strong as the noble hero whose sense of duty is palpable, as is his chemistry with Cotillard. The couple have steamy love scene in a car during a desert sandstorm that will be remembered as time goes by.

What Works

The production art direction and design and the costume design work is superb, drawing us into the world chaos as well as that oasis of nightlife where deals are made, danger lurks, and people who aren’t who they say they are.

Just as he has done in “Cast Away,” “Flight” and “The Walk,” Zemeckis carefully constructs the story so that we’re always guessing about the outcome — and enjoying the journey from the edge of our seat.

What Doesn’t Work

No complaints here.

It’s always exciting when an intelligent movie for grown-ups is on the horizon, and we can just lose ourselves in a different world for a couple hours.

The problems of two people might not amount to anything more than a hill of beans, but this is sure a thrilling excursion nonetheless.

‘Allied’

  • Stars: Three and a half
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard and Jared Harris.
  • Rated: R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use
  • Length: 2:04
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