‘Allied’ Review: Robert Zemeckis Directs A Tonally Jumbled War Thriller

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard disappoints in an all-around hit and miss thriller

You know when you have two brilliant ideas but just can’t pick one? Yes? Well, Robert Zemeckis feels your pain. On the one hand, Zemeckis wants to tell a story about two agents who fall in love with each other and on the contrary, he intends to tell a story about a doubtful relationship. Although, both are great ideas and none of them get the attention they fully deserve.

During WWII, an agent by the name of Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) gets set up with a beautiful French girl named Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard). Both of the missions are clear – to take down a German official. At first, they both act as husband and wife before beginning to fall in love.

Just when things look to be in the right direction, Max gets a phone call from his superior. This call is an important one as they reveal to him that suspicion has risen that his loving wife may actually be a German spy. If this is proven to be true, Max will have no other choice but to kill her himself.

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Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard lack chemistry in this war romance-thriller

Allied has its moments of pure joy, and that is exactly why it is hard to forgive its flaws. When moments of pure dread and suspense happen, the movie feels fresh. Each character is pinned against each other, and the anxiety is ready to rise. However, the tone constantly changes, and it does it always do it with ease. The change to romance halts the movie without ever giving Pitt and Cotillard’s characters some depth.

Speaking of Pitt and Cotillard, they both look bored and uninspired throughout the film. Pitt’s quiet voice down to Earth style of acting only comes off as boring. Cotillard, while better, does not fully commit to her intelligent livelier character. What is weirder is that the changes in their characters are abrupt and it does not work. Allied‘s shift in tones proves a challenge for both actors.

On written paper, Allied should work except that everything that should work about a spy thriller fails. A bright spot is that of the accurate depiction of the aesthetic of the era. Joanna Johnston’s (Lincoln) costume designs are a thing of beauty, capturing both the vintage and the vibrancy of the period. What everyone loves about the era of the war is stuffed in the movie. However, the style is all that Allied has. Screenwriter Steven Knight (Locke) failed to create the ticking bomb effect that is so important in a thriller. Also, Knight fails to create a compelling love story between both uninspired actors.

It is ironic that even something as nerve wracking as war cannot offer a bit of suspense to Allied. Pitt and Cotillard cannot find the dazzling chemistry that is needed to compensate for the movie’s many flaws. Vaguely similar to The Light Between Oceans, both actors are stuck in a hollow romance thriller that is all style and no substance.

GRADE: C

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‘It’s Only The End Of The World’ Review: Xavier Dolan Seriously Misfires With His Latest Drama

Canada’s bad boy Xavier Dolan waste a perfectly good cast in his new dysfunctional family drama

It is hard to deliver movie after movie, and just when you think Xavier Dolan has got it, he seriously misses the mark with his new movie, It’s Only The End Of The World. A lot is riding on his latest film. It won the Grand Prix at Cannes Festival this year, and it is Canada’s submission for the Foreign Language category at the Oscars. However, Canada has substantially wasted their submission. It’s Only The End Of The World is Dolan’s only blemish on his resume to date.

Adapted from the Jean-Luc Lagarce’s Juste La Fin Du Monde, it follows a young gay man, Louis (Gaspard Ulliel), who comes home to tell his family that he is dying from AIDS. His single mother (Nathalie Baye), his sister, Suzanne (Léa Seydoux) and his brother, Antoine (Vincent Cassel) are not the most caring family. In fact, they are quite violent and dysfunctional. It is hard for Louis to tell them this devasting news as no one in his family is a particularly good listener. The only caring person present in the house is Antoine’s wife (Marion Cotillard). She and Louis can relate on many points and may be the only person there that can ever understand him.

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One of the few scenes where the camera is not up in the actors’ faces

Ultimately, it becomes a story about a bickering family rather than a powerful story about a dying young man. The cast is amazing, and they do the best they can with what they are given which is not a lot. The whole family is given little to no layers even the main character, Louis. The most wasted actor has got to be Marion Cotillard. She is never given anything interesting to do and falls in the cliched abused wife.

Perhaps as disappointing as the cast is the monotonous cinematography. The excess use of close up adds nothing special to the movie. Dolan only gives teases of what could have been some beautiful cinematography. A scene showing the outdoor table as the family is preparing to eat is a nice change of pace. The audience gets to see a beautifully captured scenery. But, Dolan quickly goes back to putting the camera directly in each character’s faces thinking that it adds to the atmosphere.

Together it makes the movie’s pace unbearable, and the main story is backseat to all the cussing and fighting. Dolan’s addition of weak metaphors come off as pretentious instead of deep. The movie tries to be a sophisticated look at a dying person’s psychology, but instead we get 95 minutes of bickering.

It’s Only The End Of The World is a disappointing movie. Everything it tries to do fails. A talented cast is wasted just as Canada’s chance at an Oscar. However, it may not be the end of the world just yet for Dolan as he is set to release his first English movie, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. We can only hope that a change of language will help him return to his previous form.

REVIEW: D