Allied is a film that seems so hard to be trying for Oscar nominations. From its well regarded stars to its subject matter to the period in which its set to its high profile director it’s a film that is just begging to be important. What we get, unfortunately, is a somewhat well made slog.
Brad Pitt plays Max Vatan, an officer in the Canadian Air Force working for the British government during World War II and Marion Cotillard is Marianne Bausejour a spy in the French Resistance. These two meet up during an operation in Casablanca, fall in love, and go to London together to get married. Shortly afterward the RAF discovers that Bausejour may not be who she claims.
Allied is a movie that defies criticism, not really because it is so good or so bad, but because there is so little here. It’s a fairly dull film with poor chemistry between its actors, a plot so thin and with so little in the way of subplots to speak of that it seems like at least two thirds of what we see is filler to give the movie an ample running time, and dialogue that never stands out in any way. Allied does a decent job of keeping us guessing about its main premise, dropping what seems like obvious clues as to what is really going on with Cotillard’s character then giving us reason to doubt what we’ve seen over and over again, but that really is all the script and the performances have going for them.
The production values of the film are better than the story, but even they can be a little inconsistent. The sets and locations are downright spectacular, looking so real and so much like a war torn era London that you have to wonder how they were able to get the local residents allow the film crew to totally transform their neighborhood for the film’s purposes. The costumes and interiors had more character than the actors did, and you can truly allow yourself to get lost in the period of the movie, if not so much in the story.
The camera work and special effects, however, are a little more inconsistent. They are excellent for most of the time, but occasionally give way to an awkward shot or an obvious green screen effect or the like blemishing an otherwise great effort, and in an odd way these stand out mistakes can be more annoying than work in poorly made films as the mistakes really stand out and make for added distraction.
Allied seems like a film that was made in a hurry. Everyone involved is quite skilled, and it really does show much of the time, but it’s also obvious that so much of that skill was put into half-assed, “I just want to get this over with” effort. There’s a lot of good here, a lot of bad, but mostly it’s a lot of filler and lack of passion. It’s lackluster artisans at work.
Rating: 4.4 out of 10