I rarely make it to the theatre to see the hot new movies, life seems to always get in the way. I read the reviews, say “I think I’d like to see that picture,” then watch it on Netflix a year later.
So going to see Allied last Friday on its opening weekend was unusual. Even more unusual was that I liked the film.
I don’t see myself as automatically disposed to dislike the movies I see; it is more that I have high standards. Invariably I feel let down, not usually by the actors but by the director and writers. Especially the writers.
I’ve never tried my hand at script writing; I know my limitations. But as a writer myself, I get annoyed when dialogue or plot is beyond belief or insulting to my intelligence, such as it is. If I think I could have done better, then it is a bad film.
I chose Allied for our evening entertainment because I wanted to choose a movie my wife would enjoy. We have very different tastes in film. On this occasion a romance seemed in order and the setting, World War Two, is a period in history that I am interested in.
So why did I like it? And what did I dislike? Because there is always something I’ll dislike.
Marion Cotillard was excellent as the female lead. I’d say it was an Oscar-worthy performance, but I haven’t seen enough movies this year to know what the competition would be like. She was believable in the role, and I never did manage to figure her character out, which for me is high praise indeed. (When reading mystery novels my goal is to figure out the answer before the protagonist does. Allied kept me guessing until almost the end.)
Brad Pitt was totally unbelievable As a Canadian airman. But perhaps totally believable as Hollywood’s idea of what a Canadian airman would have looked and sounded like in 1942. He’s Brad Pitt, which is box office gold, and that is all that matters. Who cares about his American accent when speaking French? Or that a man from Ontario is unlikely to want to retire to a farm outside Medicine Hat. Why they just didn’t make the character an American I’ll never know. I could have written in an explanation for his ability to speak French without making him Canadian. Maybe people in Hollywood don’t know that there are Americans who speak the language. Maybe they used “Medicine Hat” because they thought people would laugh.
The film is action thriller, romance and espionage tale rolled into one. Such movies always require a certain suspension of disbelief, a willingness to accept the implausible.
So I will not let the illogic of the beginning distract me. The movie begins with Pitt’s character parachuting into Morocco to join Cotillard in a plot to assassinate the German Ambassador. Not only does this make no operational sense, but the plot was far too complex. Just shoot the man on the street. But that would make the film 45 minutes shorter.
Nor are some of the procedures ascribed to the intelligence branch even remotely similar to what the policies actually were. But the changes I the movie set up drama and conflict essential to the plot.
Being somewhat aware of my military history, I was also annoyed at the social engineering and 21st century mores being imposed on 1942 London. Back then, homosexual relationships were kept secret for fear of court martial and discharge. They were not flaunted in front of superior officers. I guess the filmmakers wanted to make a statement, but it struck a discordant tone.
There were a few other minor points that rubbed me the wrong way, but as I said, overall I enjoyed the film. Most of it was believable, making it a pleasant two hours on a Friday night, with great company. I’ll probably watch Allied again in a year when it shows up on Netflix.