Ace director Robert Zemeckis’s latest film Allied is a slowly paced love story that uses the attire of a spy thriller. The realistic tempo of the narrative gives an impressive level of intrigue to the film. But the lack of space in the screenplay to establish the emotional connect between the main protagonists reduces the emotional impact the film needed.
Max Vatan is this intelligence officer who was assigned for a spy mission in Casablanca along with Marianne Beausejour during World War II. After completing the mission they both decided to get married. The movie Allied’s main conflict deals with that phase of the family life when Max was given information from the authorities that there is a chance that Marianne is a German spy. The movie invests mainly in the quest of Max to know the truth.
The movie isn’t rushing in terms of on screen activities. Zemeckis impressively creates a spy movie charm even within the offbeat kind of treatment. You do sense the smartness of the characters and also the beginnings of their emotional connect in that first one hour of the film. But when the conflict begins and the mystery starts to unfold, there is a lack of depth in the emotional level. When you look at the climax of the film, you know that it is trying to be a love story. But the screenplay’s lack of investment in the love part causes issues as we don’t really feel the pain and dilemma Max goes through in that period.
Unlike his last directorial The Walk, Robert Zemeckis uses a different take. The usually fast paced spy operations we see in movies get a very calm and composed attire. Making it intriguing even after being that slow is quite an achievement. Even when the screenplay fails to create the intense romantic angle, Zemeckis never compromises in the visual narrative of the movie and the production design was used effectively to give us a feel of the 40’s war days. If Steven Knight could have designed a better love story between Marianne and Max, the story would have stayed in our minds. Frames were impressive and the cuts also had the elegance.
Brad Pitt underplays the not so loud Max Vatan nicely. More than him I feel Marion Cotillard delivered a better performance. Her character was more dominating and because of the wide emotional spectrum of Marianne, Cotillard had the opportunity to perform and she delivered a superb performance.
Allied has directorial moments in my opinion. Some of the scenes were designed quite nicely. The visuals, the production design etc. were quite catchy. If the story had more romantic fire in it, things would have been much different.
The lack of space in the screenplay to establish the emotional connect between the main protagonists reduces the emotional impact Allied needed.