The “Back to the Future” trilogy, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, “Forrest Gump”…that’s some resume. But then Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis steered his career towards motion-capture animated features, for the first decade of this century. Upon returning to live action films–his box office dominance of the 1980s and 1990s suffered a bit. 2012’s “Flight” DID end up becoming a modest hit, but 2015’s “The Walk” barely broke 10 million domestically. And his latest, “Allied”, almost failed to cover its cost. But you know what? I like all of those three movies. And even though “Allied” starts off feeling like warmed over “Casablanca”, it eventually finds its footing, and the star power of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard truly shine bright, as Max and Marianne.
It’s an intelligent and dexterous screenplay from Steven Knight, and our two leads bite into the melodrama with gusto, in this 1942-set, World War Two romantic spy thriller. You won’t know who to believe, and Mr. Pitt nimbly walks a tortured line of blind trust and willful denial. It’s a canny performance. And you should hardly be surprised that the wonderful Ms. Cotillard matches him step-for-step. Is it a bit heavy-handed in spots? Yes, absolutely. But the Academy-nominated costumes (by Joanna Johnston) are to die for. And, overall, the film ends up being a wonderful homage to Golden Age filmmaking. There’s also some sly support work, from performers such as Jared Harris, Matthew Goode, Lizzy Caplan, Simon McBurney, and Charlotte Hope. Give it a try.