Released nationwide in cinemas today, the latest film from director Robert Zemeckis, starring Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Simon McBurney and Matthew Goode. Set during World War II, intelligence operatives Max and Marianne (Pitt and Cotillard) pursue a deadly mission behind enemy lines and simultaneously fall in love; after returning to London, marrying and having a child together, Max’s superiors inform him that Marianne may in fact be a German spy and he must test her to prove her innocence and if she fails, execute her.
Pitt and Cotillard are a very interesting combination of actors to watch on the big screen, both with deadly stares and strong presence, as well as a chemistry that feels impressive without a lot of unnecessary physicality or dialogue. Pitt particularly comes across as the strong, silent type in this film which in some cases works perfectly and in others feels slightly too understated, although this is certainly a film relying on the actors ability without heavy dialogue or action. The last few years for Pitt have seen a variation of roles in different genres but this one is much more testing to his capability and the performance judged over the whole film is almost perfect, but the instances where he’s not so silent don’t always come across 100 percent genuine, though certainly passable. Cotillard surprisingly takes much more of the dialogue here, it’s slightly strange to see her in a role that feels almost chatty at times but nevertheless she exudes a huge charisma which is enchanting, as always, to watch. The rest of the cast doesn’t really require much discussion as the film is without doubt centred on the two leads but it doesn’t suffer for that, both their performances hold their intensity throughout and serve the film well.
It’s also another in a long line of films this year that visually is a pleasure to watch, both while set in Casablanca and the UK, it’s crisp and extremely pleasing to the eye, particularly the moments during the blitz which are well done with special effects. The film however does have a slight problem in the sense of requiring a patience from the audience, after an intense, action fuelled portion of the film you are left mostly to watch as they develop as a family which can be more trying for some members of the audience. Secondly it also sits in between action and emotion, it of course does not veer into the realm of films like Inglorious Basterds, Valkyrie or Monuments Men and it also doesn’t quite get into the territory of the strong emotional stories such as Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Unbroken or Son of Saul: which slightly leaves the film in a limbo when it comes to the modern audience, and will not necessarily suit a large portion of today’s typical viewers. Although for those with the patience and open nature to any film, it will be a much more pleasing experience. The story does of course pick up it’s suspense and intrigue more towards its final scenes to a satisfying, if slightly predictable, conclusion.
It has two great performances, with a combination of two great actors but favours slightly more to Cotillard than Pitt, who was an actress born to play characters in that era. The cinematography is fantastic, the story is intriguing if slightly drawn out in the middle and it is overall a film that is worthwhile, if you’re willing to give it a fair chance.