WWII thriller ‘Allied’ is old-fashioned in the best way
It’s not enough to say that “Allied” is set in the 1940s. It’s set in the 1940s of collective i magination. A fair portion of it takes place in “Casablanca.” The musical score, by Alan Silvestri, has the sadness and portent of the music heard in classic World War II documentaries such as “The World at War.” There’s a lushness to the photography that feels like a color analogue to the soft- focus black- andwhite photography of Hollywood in the war years.
Most important of all, “Allied” finds actual movie stars for the lead roles, and director Robert Zemeckis treats them like movie stars, making their faces the locus of all meaning and their interaction the stuff of romantic fantasy. He creates a movie that is old- fashioned in every possible good way, but that in no way seems passe or cliched.
Coming off “Allied,” there were rumors that its stars, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, were having an affair during its making. Assuming that’s not true, it’s still understandable how people could think so or even want it to be true. In the midst of a movie- made romantic atmosphere and depicting the kind of life- anddeath stakes that can only intensify an aura of excitement and longing, Pitt and Cotillard make us believe that something is building between them from their first moments on-screen.
Written by Steven Knight (“Eastern Promises,” “Locke”) and loosely based on real events, “Allied” begins with a covert operation in Morocco. Max (Pitt), a Canadian fluent in French, is parachuted into the desert and makes his way into Casablanca. With a quick shave and a change of clothes, he looks as impeccable as Cary Grant. He goes to the rendezvous point, a nightclub, where he meets the fellow spy posing as his wife, Marianne (Cotillard).