Review: Please don’t play the Casablanca bit again in Allied
- Credit: PA
If the whole film had been about a couple whopse husband is informed his wife is a spy it might have just about passed muster, but there was no coming back from Casablanca.
In Allied, a man claiming to be Bard Pitt teams up with a woman believed to be Marion Cotillard for a tale of war time espionage supposedly directed by Robert (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) Zemeckis. But they can't be really, can they?
Being a wartime undercover agent behind enemy lines would normally be one of the toughest jobs out there, but when Pitt is parachuted into 1942 Casablanca to pose as Cotillard's Parisian husband and bump off a Nazi ambassador, the subterfuge is helped enormously by absolutely everything seeming fake there.
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What isn't obviously a set, is obviously CGI. Standards of authenticity among the Vichy French community were so low that Pitt can get away with saying what sounded very much like, 'Yeah, oui,' during his introduction to the locals.
Even Brad looks like he's been replaced with a body double, a dumb stooge sent out to perish in what is clearly a suicide mission. The opening 50 minutes is so utterly fake you assume that it can't be on the level, that there must be a cunning twist lined up – it's all some kind of film within a film; or we're on an alien planet where they are being forced to play out these scenarios for their captors' benefit.
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There is a twist of sorts. After the Casablanca fantasy, which is over a third of the film, the story resumes in London during the blitz, a place which has had any sense of frivolous unreality bombed out of it.
Far from stiff upper lipped Brits soldiering through, this is a London where the imminence of death means everybody is at it like rabbits, drinking like fish and taking any substance they can get their hands on to cope with their Russian roulette existence.
Here the couple are now married and living happily in Highgate, until Brad is informed that his wife is suspected of spying for the enemy. It's still a fairly dopey melodrama but at least there's some edge, some novelty to hold on to. If the whole film had been this it might have just about passed muster, but there was no coming back from Casablanca.