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Allied (2016)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

ALLIED (2016)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan

Written By: Steven Knight

Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

The Shot

Allied is what classic cinema looks like when filmed with modern equipment and ratings standards, and it even has some surprise cards to play.  Wonderfully acted, beautifully presented, and well told; if you have any interest at all in seeing Allied, you won’t be disappointed when you do.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

RED LEICESTER.

Just seems appropriate.


Pairs Well With...

CHAMPAGNE.

Sometimes it’s best to forget there’s a war on and just live.

“I’ve looked into her soul.”

“No.  You’ve looked into her eyes.”


Let’s be honest: if you’re at all interested in Allied, there’s no way that you’re not expecting it to be good.  It just seems to be one of those preordained can’t-miss things.  Director, cast, subject… how could any of this go wrong? 

If you read The Shot up top, you already know that I’m not going to burst the bubble here.  I came away from Allied having had all of my positive expectations met and then some.  But as for how the movie was good…

In terms of narrative, Allied is first rate stuff.  Though (as is unfortunately usual in Hollywood) the Marketing people go too far and too fast with what they decide to reveal in the trailers for the film, the movie itself takes time to develop its major characters and the stories that unfold around them.  Allied simmers its way through a very well crafted introductory First Act in Morocco during which one can’t help but wonder if Sydney Greenstreet might be swatting at flies just off camera while intrigues are plotted at an outdoor café table, and if perhaps our protagonists might have procured this that or the other thing from a shifty-eyed Peter Lorre by the by.  The classic world of Early War North Africa is wonderfully realized by Director Robert Zemeckis and his production team, and the audience is richly rewarded for it, as this stage becomes a character in and of itself against which our two leads deftly play.

And oh, how they play.

Brad Pitt takes the opportunity to remind that audience that he is, in fact, a fine actor, and not simply the pretty face that so many still want to pigeonhole him for.  It is only an even more spellbinding (and frankly award-worthy) performance by his co-star Marion Cotillard that successfully diverts attention away from him (even when she’s not on screen), and when they’re together… just wow.  “Excellent chemistry” seems an inadequate description, but one supposes it to be a good start.

And then the story moves to London, at which point the intrigue really piles on.

The thing is… I mean that.

But first: The Blitz.

If awards were given to recognize single sequences in motion pictures, then the Blitz sequence in Allied would surely deserve to be nominated as a contender for the year 2016.  It is outstandingly realized both as a scene taking place during a signature moment in real history and as a powerfully charged emotional event in the lives of the film’s characters.  Everything about that scene – the visuals, the direction, and oh yes absolutely Marion Cotillard’s performance – is dead solid perfect.  If it had nothing else going for it, Allied would be worth watching once just for the strength of this scene alone.

And yet there is so much more; indeed, if you’ve seen the trailer for Allied, it is only at this point that the narrative picks up on what you might have thought to be the complete thrust of the entire movie.  It is, as promised, a tale of suspicion and intrigue and second guesses and matters of trust and espionage, but it’s more than that, too.  What more I won’t say because frankly I think this story’s been spoiled enough by its own representative studio, but while twists and turns and red herrings are to be expected, the fact is that Allied handles them all so damned well that I really didn’t see the final answers coming.  What’s more, by the time the answers arrive, the audience is so invested in the characters that any outcome – no matter what – would be guaranteed to have an impact.

Mission, as they say, accomplished.

When I walked into the theatre to see Allied, I was expecting something good of the sort that is generally regarded as a critical foregone conclusion.  But the real triumph of the film is to reach for and to find something more, and that something is beautifully, wonderfully human.

Go see for yourself.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, December, 2016

This review was written in an airport, waiting to head the wrong way... which is to say, back.


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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