L13FC: Allied

cindylucky13banner-1It is the thirteenth of the month and time for the Lucky 13 Film Club discussion; thank you for stopping by to share your opinion of December’s topic, the recent release of Allied. Please welcome my blogging buddy, Ruth from Flixchatter, whose interesting movie site is a steadfast choice to follow. Check out her full review linked below.

Ruth’s perspective: 

FlixChatter Review: ALLIED (2016)

Allied is a gorgeous film. Unfortunately, it’s more style over substance… an elegant, sleek but utterly superficial affair. The 1940s set pieces look authentic, the streets, the cars, planes, etc. I especially love the Morocco setting, which instantly conjures up memories of Casablanca. The retro clothes are beautiful, especially Marion Cotillard’s sateen dress in a pivotal scene in Morocco, her slinky nightgown when she’s all seductive up on the roof, etc. Costume designer Joanna Johnston apparently studied Old Hollywood films from that era, and she is a master of creating retro styles, as evident in her work in Forrest Gump and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The stunning cinematography is courtesy of Robert Zemeckis’ regular collaborator Don Burgess. The opening shot is striking, with an aerial shot of the desert and a wide shot of Brad Pitt walking under the hot Sahara sun. The dust storm effects set during the film’s love scene inside the car is particularly memorable as well. Clearly, they have a big enough budget to create such painstakingly detailed sets (filmed in Spain and the UK). Needless to say, Zemeckis & co. achieved an authentic look of a wartime period drama, if only the actors’ performances were as convincing.

Cindy’s thoughts: 

So how about that acting? Marion Cotillard lit up the screen. Her complicated character switched from coquette to teacher, to lover, to wife, to mother, to mysterious spy with all the mannerisms, facial expressions and passion that you would expect from an accomplished actress. In fact, since this film seems to create associations for many of Casablanca(1942), I’ll claim Marion gave a performance that Ingrid Bergman would have been proud, which is the highest compliment I could give Ms. Cotillard since Ingrid Bergman is my favorite actress of all time.

Brad Pitt. Criticisms of the film include a hefty dose of the blame falling on the square shoulders of Pitt. Was he too wooden, too stoic, to give a heartfelt performance? Especially since Marion was lively and interesting to watch? That was my initial impression, too. But, if we are going to link similarities of Allied to Casablanca, then I’d say Brad acted just like Humphrey Bogart. Perhaps that was how Brad Pitt approached the role. Sly and stoic, a gentleman, letting the lady shine while he watched, internalizing the situation rather than impulsively reacting. As the movie progresses and the plot switches to London locales and domesticity, Brad Pitt’s stiff start warms up with more smiles. The worried pangs of doubt threaten his character’s introversion, and when he attempts to discover whether his wife is a German spy, the movie finally blossoms and becomes intriguing. By the climax at the movie’s end, I am engaged, and Max’s trust and love for Marianne felt believable. If you aren’t in a hurry, it’s not a disappointment.

What went wrong with this beautiful film? There were two grievous errors that kept it from being a top rated film. First, side characters did not help the plot or support the motivations of the principal pair. There was no Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) for which to show another side of Rick’s personality. There were no sidekicks that brought humor and charm to soften the stoicism of Rick’s personality like Sam (Dooley Wilson), Yvonne (Madeleine LeBeau), or Ugarte (Peter Lorre). Second, where’s the score? They missed a golden opportunity to include beautiful music to represent their feelings and the ambiguity of their situations. I would bet anyone a fiver if Zemeckis had included a decent score, more people would have appreciated the film. 3.5/5. 

What did you like or not about Allied? Did you get a chance to see it?  If not, what are some of your favorite Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard performances? 

44 thoughts on “L13FC: Allied

Add yours

  1. I haven’t seen it, but can confirm that reviews over here have not been too kind.
    “Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt are an unconvincing couple in this plodding second world war thriller.” (The Guardian.)
    “Zemeckis’ old-school romance has its moments and Cotillard gives it her all, but it lacks the zip and chemistry to truly spark.” (Empire magazine)

    The constant comparisons to ‘Casablanca’ obviously don’t help, as devoted fans of that film will always have a benchmark which ‘Allied’ can never hope to live up to. I have read some excerpts from the script, and watched some clips deliberately put up to show old-fashioned and hackneyed dialogue. But it is set in the 1940s, so who’s to say that’s not how they talked back then?

    Ever since I saw ‘La Vie En Rose’, I have been swept away by Cotillard. If she had never made another film, that mesmerising portrayal of Piaf would have been enough for one lifetime.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Hi, Pete. Thank you for starting out the day with a healthy comment. Everything you say rings true especially the benchmark. Honestly, it’s nothing like Casablanca at all. The love scene in the desert with the swirling camera mirroring the swirling sand storm was a clever way to film their consummation. It has a bad wrap like the WWII film ‘Monuments Film’. People were expecting something different and when they didn’t get their expectations, they were slamming the film. But, if you step back and give it a rewatch, you will see a nod to old time Hollywood films where the action scenes were few and far between, time was given to cultivate relationships on the screen, and the pace was altogether slower. So too the case with ‘Allied’. It’s not a bad film. Above average in many ways. Not steller, but a 3.5 out of 5 film. IMO.

    2. Hi Pete. Well it seems Cindy is much em, kinder on Pitt on this one. I really think he’s so bland here, and he looks bored instead of sly and stoic, but hey that’s just me. The comparison to Casablanca is so painfully obvious, which doesn’t do this movie any favor.

      Cotillard is always fun to watch though, so if you like her, I’d say this is worth a rent. Boy I still haven’t seen La Vie en Rose, I really should check that out soon.

      1. Cotillard in La Vie en Rose was outstanding. The only time I’ve seen her and wasn’t swayed by brilliance was in Macbeth. Maybe it was too darned foggy. 😉 Otherwise, she’s the best actress out there, I’d say. Which is why Brad looked so boring in comparison. I wonder how Assassin’s Creed worked out?

        1. Yep, Macbeth was disappointing. It didn’t even look that good and it was pretty darn boring. I just think Pitt isn’t charismatic enough for most leading ladies, including his ex Jolie.

      2. Thanks, Ruth. The reviews here have been harsh, to say the least, but I will still watch it one day.
        If you have never seen Cotillard as Piaf, you have missed a performance of sheer wonder. (You might have to like Piaf as a singer a bit though, as I do, but it isn’t essential)
        Best wishes from England. Pete.

        1. Still worth a rent I think, as I mentioned, the cinematography is gorgeous!

          I’ll see ‘La Vie en Rose’ one day. I’m not that familiar w/ Piaf other than that famous song in the title, but that should be ok, I’ll watch it for miss Cotillard.

          Best wishes from snowy, cc-c-cold Minnesota 🙂

    1. Hi Ian. Well, many follow your preferences. There have been quite a few roles which I admire. Not so much here, in this film, but gosh, if you like great acting jobs, Marion Cotillard won’t let you down.

  2. It is good to hear that Cottilard is good in this. I’d add my thoughts, but Christmas is the worst time for Australian cinema, we don’t get any of these ‘holiday’ movies till the holidays are over!!

    Despite what sound like some obvious flaws, I’ll probably still catch this to see Cottilard and the visuals. Plus I’ve always enjoyed war films that aren’t action films but rather stuff that was happening behind the fighting, much like this

    1. Hey, buddy! So glad you stopped by to chime in. It is definitely worth it for some fine acting from Cottilard. I like the mysterious build up and by the end, it’s down right entertaining. I’d be interested in hearing if you liked it or not by the time you get around watching it.

          1. I really wanna give it a try as I want to expand my tastes and to stop avoiding movies involving romance. I guess I avoid them because I have been single for a very long time, but that’s no excuse to miss decent films!
            Even if this one is a bit of a let-down, I like both Pitt and especially Cottilard, plus the setting and costumes are other things I am looking forward to

          2. Yeah, that is like me and romance stuff. I used to 100% avoid them, but Ruth got me onto Brooklyn which I liked, and I’m looking forward to seeing Loving too. I like to have an open mind, not just regarding film but everything in life really

  3. Man this is a cool feature. This tends to epitomize the mixed response to Allied. Me, personally, I quite dug it. The performances suited the grave circumstances. It’s not every day you see a spy all charismatic and full of smiles. I’d be willing to be also my opinion of this might change once I give it another look. Great pieces, both!

    1. Thanks, I needed that! This feature is only a year old, and we’ve had some long-winded, delightful conversations in the past. I am glad you see the fun in it. With regards to your comment, yes, it’s a spy movie and we are used to Tom Cruise having fun and cracking jokes during grave circumstances, right? I’ll stick to my guns and say all the movie needed was a heavy-duty score and people would have loved it.

      1. Yeah I don’t know what uappened, I can’t even remember what I said but WordPress simply deleted it or it never went through 😦

          1. “Ultimately Allied finds its director working comfortably within his wheelhouse while offering a darker, more subtle story that’s well worth investing time into.”

          2. Oh, great! It didn’t bother me as much as others. As I mentioned, all it needed was a score! Imagine if James Horner had a shot at creating a sweeping score weaved throughout?

          3. Lol most of the time scores and soundtracks pass right over me, I didn’t even notice the lack of it there but I tend to agree. When scores are really good they boost the experience. 🙂

  4. There are very mixed views out there on this film. The filming is great and the nostagia look is done well. Althought this is an action-packed espionage it has an ordinary script and unconvincing performances. In places the acting just felt fake.

    1. Welcome, Richard! I truly appreciated Marion C.’s performance. She was animated and flirty and sincere. I agree the script was lacking and Brad’s performance was the weak link. I don’t think it a horrible film at all. I love all that style — I’m repeating myself over and over, but honestly, had the film had a great score, a lot would have been forgiven. Thank you for following me, and come back soon.

    1. Well come back when you do see it! When you watch it, imagine a better score. I think we’ve forgotten how manipulated the score plays with our emotions and becomes its own character in the composition. Without one, the film is lacking.

          1. Noice. They give bleeding heart liberals like myself a bad name. 🙂 Although I hasten to add I don’t like to think of myself or most others in terms of one political mindset.

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