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Film Review: Allied (2016)

Brad Pitt’s latest film sees the Hollywood heartthrob doing something quite novel: parleying fluent Francais for large chunks of the movie. Once the shock is gotten over and assuming the (white) sub-titles are legible on your Telly, Allied turns out to be a fairly enjoyable caper.

Parachuted into Morocco on a secret mission, Max Vattan is a World War II special agent who speaks French with a thick Canadian accent. Using the cover afforded by his ‘wife’ French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) Pitt is under orders to assassinate a Nazi governor, a mission with only a 60-40 chance of succeeding according to Vattan’s calculations.

Though Pitt and Cotillard have bigger fish to fry it doesn’t take them long to start flirting outrageously with one another. Well, you can hardly blame ‘em! Mission accomplished (considerably easier than Max’s 60-40 prediction) romance duly blossoms. Upon their return to blighty Max and Marianne tie the knot in London. It all happens in a whirlwind. Parachute, assassination and marriage all in a matter of days.

And when Marianne pops a sprog during an air-raid and the couple move into semi-detached suburbia, middle-aged respectability is only an Austin Seven and an aspidistra away.

Indeed it’s all going rather swimmingly until Max is summoned to meet a superior one day. There may be more to Marianne than meets the eye – Max’s wife and mother of his child is suspected of being…a German spy! Awkward. The Canadian has seventy-two hours to prove his superiors wrong.

Although there are some parts of the plot that it wouldn’t pay to analyse too closely, Allied is a very watchable film. How Cotillard managed to do-away with the real Beausejour and infiltrate the Moroccan ring is never really addressed, nor are the machinations behind her nefarious activities in the UK.

Among her London contacts are a circle of individuals posing as babysitters and shopkeepers, but who are in fact Nazi spies. Something is going on in Hampstead – precisely what we are never told. And while we’re at it, what became of the real Marianne?

Pitt of course refuses to accept for one moment that his wife might be playing a double game. Clutching a photograph of ‘Marianne’ the gallant Canadian flies all the way to France to ascertain the identity of his wife. Imagine his disappointment when the witness who could confirm the identity of Marianne Beausejour turns out to have been blinded in battle! Now that’s what I call bad luck.

Cotillard and Pitt do look awfully good together it has to be said. And the film recreates the period pretty well enough. Pitt arguably does not quite possess the emotional range required of his character, but just about gets away with it. Cotillard on the other hand is quite simply delectable.

As it stands Allied is a more than competent example of its genre. And yet…it’s hard to escape the feeling that there was yet more drama waiting to be extracted from this film, more suspense betwixt husband and wife just waiting to be exploited.