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Cinema Review: Allied

A decent spy thriller with red herrings and an ending that you can’t pick is a welcome standout in the tsunami of kids’ flicks and mind-numbing sci-fi that prevail at this time of year. Max (Brad Pitt), a dashing Canadian who looks gorgeous in a dinner suit, and Marianne (Marion Cotillard), a member of the French Resistance, are posing as a married couple behind enemy lines in Casablanca (they’re a bit like Rick and Ilsa, only with guns). After assassinating the Third Reich’s ambassador to Morocco, they find that they are truly in love, flee to London, get hitched and start a family. Things start to go awry for their happy-ever-after when the Secret Service become suspicious of Marianne. They believe that she is not who she claims to be and that instead she is a double agent sending messages back to the Krauts. If this is the case, Max himself must execute her – and nobody is better suited to present the ultimatum than the wonderful Simon McBurney as the soulless precursor to Fleming’s M. The question is then asked of Max – ‘whose side are you on?’, as his wife is set up in a sting that will reveal her true identity. Pitt and Cotillard are absolutely convincing as the doting couple (notwithstanding a quite tepid sex scene) and Steven Knight’s screenplay squeezes them tighter in its vice-like grip at every turn. Veteran director Robert Zemeckis, because he’s an old hand in special effects, cannot resist the temptation to indulge in a few episodes of elaborate, cartoonish violence – the murder of the ambassador followed by Max and Marianne’s escape from the compound is particularly well done, if a little graphic for those not into sprays of blood – but the story is told with unflinching integrity. Atmos and period are beautifully created – although Casablanca’s streets have probably never been so clean – and a German bomber shot down during the Blitz and crashing into a field next to Max and Marianne’s London home is fab.


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