Allied | Sunday Observer


The 2016 film Allied is directed by Robert Zemeckis and the screenplay is by Steven Knight. It stars Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, Marion Cotillard as Marianne Beauséjour, Jared Harris as Colonel Frank Heslop and Simon McBurney as the S.O.E.

The film is set during the Second World War in 1942 in Casablanca, Morocco. It begins with Max Vatan, a Canadian Wing Commander of the Royal Air Force being sent on a mission to Casablanca to assassinate the German Ambassador. Vatan’s accomplice on this mission is the French resistance fighter named Marianne Beauséjour and they pose as a married couple. The opening sequence shows Vatan parachuting into the barren Moroccan desert and looking ridiculous in a turban and a pair of sun glasses. Vatan who is given a false identity is then driven to Casablanca where he finds Beauséjour partying at a night club. Casablanca, Morocco is a terrible place which is ideal for people who are degenerates and like to live a dissipated and decadent life and you are not deceived by its superficial, glossy facade. Vatan and Beauséjour soon assume the role of husband and wife and while Vatan displays a professional attitude towards his job, Beauséjour is a femme fatale who behaves unprofessionally and seduces him. Vatan resists Beauséjour’s first attempt at seducing him but he succumbs to her second attempt, and the scene is portayed in an ambiguous way so that you cannot be certain whether it is Vatan’s lack of intellectual discernment that causes him to fall for Beauséjour’s vile charms or whether he is just playing her game.

After their mission of assassinating the German ambassador is accomplished, Vatan and Beauséjour move to London and get married. Vatan’s boss Colonel Frank Heslop who received the documents approving Beauséjour’s passage to England tells him, “Max, you’re a bloody fool. Marriages made in the field never work”.

Heslop proves to be right and a Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.) who calls himself a “rat catcher” informs Vatan that Beauséjour is suspected of being a German spy who was given a false identity after the real Marianne Beauséjour was killed and then sent to Casablanca where nobody knew who she was and the German ambassador they assassinated was in fact a dissident whom Hitler wanted killed.

Vatan seems to be astonished by this revelation but you find it hard to believe that it never crossed his mind that Beauséjour could be a German spy. Early in the film Beauséjour tells Vatan, “I keep the emotions real. That’s why it works” and a man with intellectual discernment would have been able to distinguish the difference between true emotion and fake emotion. The S.O.E. informs Vatan that if Beauséjour is proven to be a German spy operational procedure in case of intimate betrayal will apply, which means that he would have to execute her with his own hands and if he is found to be an accomplice in any way he will be charged with high treason and hanged. Vatan understands the implications of this procedure but blatantly violates orders and takes matters into his own hands. The presentation of Vatan’s character is ambiguous and you cannot be sure whether he is a fool who falls for the femme fatale Beauséjour or whether he suspects or knows that she is a German spy but pretends otherwise.

The movie explores the themes of war, love, marriage and trust. Brad Pitt lacks the acting talent to give a compelling performance as the spy Max Vatan, and listening to him speak French makes you cringe because his accent is awful. Marion Cotillard gives a convincing performance as the femme fatale Marianne Beauséjour. Jared Harris as Colonel Frank Heslop and Simon McBurney as the S.O.E. give noteworthy performances.