starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard and Jared Harris
written by Steven Knight
directed by Robert Zemeckis
Called “Marianu” in Japan, Allied is a WWII wartime romantic thriller. Brad Pitt plays Canadian intelligence officer Wing Commander Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard is the French Resistance fighter and collaborator, Marianne Beauséjour. (The Japanese title “Marianu” is the Japanese Romanized spelling of “Marianne.”) The pair meet during an assassination mission in Casablanca, French Morocco. In several ways the story (and location) recalls to mind the famous Casablanca movie (1942, directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Sydney Greenstreet).
Max Vatan is an Anglophone Canadian from Ontario province. For his mission he underwent intensive French language training (in Canada) to gain fluency so he could function in French Morocco and his naïve, boyish confidence in his speaking ability is cute. But as soon as he meets Marianne she immediately criticizes his French as “pure Quebecois.” She then proceeds to call him “my Quebecois” throughout much of the film. Some audiences might not get that, but as a bilingual Canadian and a language teacher I get it right away.
Max and Marianne’s Morocco mission is successful. They escape to London. They fall in love. They have a daughter and live in the London suburbs while Max commutes to the inner city War Office every day for his Military Intelligence work. But the twist of this movie comes when British intelligence springs the news on Max that his wife is not really the French Underground fighter Marianne Beauséjour, but an imposter, a double agent substitute. The suspicion will take a few days to confirm, but if confirmed Max will be required by protocol to kill her himself - and be hanged for treason if he refuses. Very dramatic stuff. I won’t explain the entire plot, but I have to say that Max and Marianne’s love is real and deep, and the story doesn’t end well for them.
Jared Harris, the son of the legendary Irish actor and world class international hellraiser Richard Harris, plays Max’s boss, Colonel Frank Heslop. It’s the first time I’ve seen a progeny of Richard Harris’ loins on film. Wow.