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Cinema in Focus: ‘Allied’

3 Stars — Challenging

World War II not only obliterated individuals, communities and nations, but its poison destroyed even the closest of loving friends. Allied is a tantalizing look into the joy and grief of wartime love and innocence lost.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future and Forrest Gump), this is a masterfully told tale of a British intelligence officer in 1942, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), who falls in love with a French Resistance fighter, Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), while on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Sometime later, they reunite in wartime London, marry and have a daughter. Life is dangerous, but little do we know how dangerous it is.

For Americans, the war was in countries far away that most had never even visited. For the Brits and French, daily life included air raids and bomb shelters. When Marianne is in the midst of delivering her baby in a London hospital, the structure is under such a devastating attack that the delivery has to occur on a gurney in an alley surrounded by falling buildings and glass.

Max and Marianne bonded while joining in a common purpose to defeat the enemy. The intensity of the job is fuel for the passion that ignites in their personal lives. It dramatizes an attraction that became a common experience during and following the war. 

The story’s intrigue, though, is based on the fact that all may not be as it appears. What if your husband or wife is not who they say they are? What if finding this out is just a test to see what you will do in a situation like this? Here is the core of the tale: a look at who can be trusted. We won’t give away the fascinating plot, but the emotional tension is well presented and powerful.

The poison that was in the veins of both world wars was not exhibited first and foremost on the battlefield, but rather in the hearts of ordinary citizens who let their fears of one another lead them to justifying murder, setting neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother. This was not a war for land or gold, but it was based on fear of others who could be blamed for their misfortune. Those “others” included Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and immigrants. It is an all too common malady that we experience as much today as we did in history.

Wars demand sacrifices, a truism that we usually associate with death on the battlefield. What if that sacrifice hits close to home, in your own family? Here is where your allegiance is tested to the core and patriotism disintegrates. War is indeed “hell,” and love is often blind.


» How have intensity and passion been merged in your own life? What happens when either the intensity or passion lessens?

» The choices that are forced to be made in the hellish moments of life, such as war, become a crucible in our lives. Have you ever made a choice that was forced upon you? How did it effect your life and the lives of those you love?

» If we know that hatred and fear cause us to turn on others, why do you think we continue to do so? What is going to change this, both within each of us and within the world?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is the retired pastor of Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara and lead superintendent of Free Methodist Church in Southern California. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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