Allied (2016)

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Robert Zemeckis directs Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard and Jared Harris in this wartime romantic thriller about two spies who fall for each other only to discover one might be a double agent.

Here we go, gang! A glossy modern day crack at a Notorious or a Casablanca, full of surprising violence and glimpses of sex and drugs, that manages to nearly always marry the intimate with the epic. The confident experimental sweep with which Zemeckis tells his tale of desert trysts, Blitz intrigue and resistance detecting manages to out Spielberg Spielberg (Zemeckis really has been delivering on that promise throughout his career). The balls out opening shot of Pitt floating down into the North African desert exposes an experienced storyteller who is just going to take it to the edge and do pirouettes for two magnificent hours. Now, it is fair to say the pace shifts about a bit and current audiences may not care for the moments that lean heavily on starpower. But who cares about their immature needs? Cotillard manages to pump blood and guts into a role that could consumed with being merely enigmatic, and there’s a reason Pitt is the closest we have to an old school movie star of the Gary Cooper or Montgomery Clift brand. Every flinch and twitch of his ageing yet smoothly golden face feels like a tale in itself, he is one of those actors who you are so drawn to watching he needs to do very little externally to win you over. And whether it is listening to frustrating exposition in vintage knitwear or calmly taking on a tank singlehandedly, that coiled minimalism is electrifying here. The set dressers and costume designers match the high bar that the pairing of possibly the two most beautiful people currently in Hollywood sets,  with a cornucopia of faded primary colours and worn but soft textures enveloping the eyes at every scene change. A whole gateau of movie magic – it is fair to say I pretty much loved every slice of this.

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