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Liberty at the movies: Allied

Allied is a World War II spy thriller with an unusual premise and interesting twist. It also shows the heartlessness of government's wartime bureaucracies.

Allied tells the story of Max Vatan, a Canadian Intelligence office, and Marianne Beausejour, a French resistance fighter who may be a German spy. Vatan and Beausejour meet on an undercover operation in Casablanca. Their mission is to pose as a married couple seeking an invitation to a party at the German embassy in order to assassinate the German ambassador.

The scenes where Beausejour instructs Vatan how to act like a "typical" loving husband, as well as the scenes where Vatan instructs her in the art of assignation are very charming. Rather then showing the couple as falling into "love as first site," the film allows their relationship to develop over time. It even has an early scene where Beausejour warns against the two giving in to any attraction.

But, despite their best efforts, the two fall in love and, after the successful mission and having to maneuver through wartime regulations and red tape, they marry and settle in London. Vatan continues to work in intelligence while Beausejour raises their daughter.

They enjoy an idyllic life, or as idyllic as it can be when even their parities are interrupted by Nazi air raids -- and Vatan is informed that his wife is suspected of being a Nazi spy.

Vatan is forced to participate in a sting operation. He must plant false information. If the information ends up in Nazi hands, he must kill his wife or both of them will be executed. This rule may have a certain logic to it--after all what better way to ensure the spouse in this situation is merely an unwitting dupe?-- but the mater of fact, mechanical way the intelligence official who delivers the order is chilling.

The rest of the movie deals with Vatan's efforts to prove his wife's innocence, including sneakiness behind enemy lines to find another member of the French resistance who can verify if Beausejour is who she says she is or a Nazi imposer.

So is she or isn't she a spy? Well the answer to that question involves a twist that I won't reveal here. Allied benefits from Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard's performances as the lead couple. They do not only deliver strong performances, but play off each other in a manner that suggests that they may have a future in other films.

It also benefits from a script that keeps your interest through numerous twists and turns, and an true edge-of-your seat ending. Allied screenwriter Stephen Knight discuses the true story that inspired Allied here.


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