It’s 1942. Brad Pitt parachutes into the Moroccan desert where he is met by a car. He gets in and the car drives off. On the back seat is a suitcase containing a change of clothes, new passport and documents… and some guns! He’s dropped off in Casablanca, all suited and booted and is given keys to a nearby car that’s been left for him. He’s also told that his wife is waiting for him inside the club they’ve arrived at, and that she’ll be wearing a purple dress. He enters and spots a woman in a purple dress (Marion Cotillard), chatting with friends. She sees him and leaps up to greet him, introducing him to her friends and explaining how he has been away on business for so long. After polite introductions, they excuse themselves so that they can be together after such a lengthy time apart. Once outside we discover that they’ve never actually met before and have been assigned to each other in order to carry out an important mission…
They spend a few days becoming acquainted with each other, pretending to others that they’re happily married. And of course, they start falling for each other. For the next 45 minutes or so, we’re still kind of in the dark as to what they’re in Casablanca for and it all starts to become a bit dull, lacking any real spark or chemistry. We eventually discover that they need invitations to a party being hosted by the German ambassador and if you’ve seen the trailer where they flip over the table and bring out their guns, then that’s where this is eventually leading to. It’s all over rather quickly though and if after seeing the trailer you’d hoped that this was going to be another Mr and Mrs Smith style action movie, you’re going to be a bit disappointed.
The second half of the movie improves considerably. Max (Pitt) asks Marianne (Cotillard) to return to London with him and become his wife. War torn London is beautifully recreated with some pretty impressive scenes, including one where Marianne has to give birth outside the hospital while destruction is happening all around them, bullets streaking up into the sky to try and take out the enemy planes that are dropping bombs. A year passes and Max and Marianne are living happily in a nice area of London. But then Max’s commanding officer, Frank Heslop (Jared Harris), informs him that he must attend a special meeting with military intelligence. Again, if you’ve seen the trailer it’s no secret that they suspect Marianne of being a German spy. Max is told that he will be telephoned that evening with a special message which he must write down somewhere where his wife can see it. If they pick up any decoded enemy chatter after the weekend which mentions that message, their suspicions will be confirmed and Max will need to take action with his own hand.
The remainder of the movie is pretty enjoyable. We have no idea if Marianne is or isn’t a spy and have the same suspicions Max does every time he is with her or we see her talking to someone. He also goes to great lengths to try and prove her innocence without arousing suspicions from her or his commanding officer – ‘borrowing’ a plane in order to travel to France and question somebody that may or may not be able to vouch for her identity.
As you can imagine, things get tense and desperate towards the end of the movie. There is a slight twist and I felt the movie ended well, but overall I wasn’t as impressed with this as I’d hoped I’d be.