'Allied' is a captivating story of love and betrayal during WWII

The truest human vulnerability is that we fall in love.

There are many cliches that explore this strange tendency, but here’s one: “All’s fair in love and war.”

I’ve never really felt comfortable with this sentiment; after all, we have protocols like the Geneva Conventions to very specifically dictate what is NOT fair in war. As for matters of the heart, we have only our own moral constructs — and trust in others.

But what happens when that trust is shattered?

Allied, Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Film Review

Brad Pitt plays Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard plays Marianne Beausejour in ‘Allied’ from Paramount Pictures.

From Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis, “Allied” begins with the perspective of actor Brad Pitt’s Max Vatan, a man trained by the British Special Operations Executive to infiltrate occupied Casablanca during World War II to assassinate the German ambassador.

To accomplish this mission, he is partnered with Marianne Beauséjour, a captivating and brilliant French resistance fighter played by the exquisite Marion Cotillard. True to history, their cover story was for the pair to pose as a married couple, bringing them together in intimate proximity, which ultimately leads to a very real romance — or so it seems.

“ ‘Allied’ is absolutely a story of betrayal and that’s the universal theme of this film: how we react when we start to think someone we love isn’t who they say they are,” Zemeckis said.

The charisma of Cotillard’s performance is matched by the growing suspicion that she is keeping secrets, which, when set against the backdrop of World War II, literally could mean life or death for our heroes — and their countries.

The tension in this film is beautifully balanced by the sensual chemistry of its two leads, the eloquent cinematography, and the expert sound design (most notably demonstrated in a sandstorm during one of the best love scenes I have ever watched). Everything about this film was lovely, from the costume design to the sweeping set pieces to the dreamy color palette. Even the intense portrayal of the London Blitz was spectacular.

“Allied” is compelling and evocative, and though it has the high stakes of war, it is truly a story about love and trust. The tension builds slowly then erupts in an emotionally charged but satisfying ending.

It is surely an awards contender.

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