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Allied Movie Review (2016) | A Suspenseful Shade of Romance

Robert Zemeckis returns, this time with a war thriller, an intriguing weave of Steven Knight‘s brain. Allied Movie thrives on constant suspense to come up with a tale that swivels around a sheer veil. It is a slow build up for its core suspense. But the build up is beautiful, gradually sewed in with ingenuous love that appears very convincing owing to the extraordinary acting prowess of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.

The movie falters a bit with its drama quotient, owing to a decisive plot. Also, there isn’t much eventually left to chew on. However, owing to the mammoth parable that hides underneath its pages, minor issues with the flick are worth overlooking.

Theme and Plot of Allied Movie (Spoilers)

Marion hits the home run with her every look, every stare. Her love smitten eyes are hard not to fall for. And Brad sings like a canary to her tunes. That’s why it becomes instantly heartbreaking when the actor Simon McBurney who portrays a Special Operations Executive barges in the lovely story putting a tinge of doubt to it, thus bringing cloud of chaos.

still of Brad Pitt and Mario Cotillard in Allied Movie

Allied Movie begins with a mission in 1942 where a Canadian Air Force Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is supposed to team up with a French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour in Casablanca. Together they are supposed to assassinate a German ambassador. In their short stint of posing as husband and wife for cover, they end up falling in love for real.

“We are married, why would we laugh?”

Before the events of assassination take place Max proposes Marianne to marry her and come to live with him in London. They survive events of Casablanca after which Marianne is summoned to London. They settle down in Hampstead where Marianne gives birth to a beautiful baby girl (Anna).

The Major Twist

A good promising year passes them by. One day an unexpected call shakes the very foundation of Max. He learns from an S.O. E. head that his wife is suspected to be a spy. As a reassurance, as part of a ‘blue dye’ op, he is asked to follow a bluff, send a fake message. If their German interceptors pick it, it would confirm them that she is indeed a spy.

“There’s a thing called the soul. I’ve looked into her soul.”

He was ordered to kill her with his own hands if that were so. If not complied he would be hanged for treason. Mentally scathed by bold allegations, Max decides to run his own errands to confirm Marianne’s true identity. He risks his own life to eventually find out the bitter truth the hard way.

The Clouded Truth

She was indeed a spy however when brought under his emotional scanner admits to have been forced into doing the job.

You cannot empathize with Max’s state of mind enough when you realize the truth. His first urge to hit her the moment she admits it reeks of human chagrin and helplessness.

“Was the love real?”

You can’t help but wonder what of a relationship that starts when it starts with a brazen lie? Is it not destined to fail? Is it not supposed to swallow itself in the muck of its own unscrupulous ingress? Even though the backdrop we have here is that of a world at war, and being a spy to a nation, selling secrets is punishable by life. It was crashing, crashing all the way. Doom written on it!

still of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Allied movie

To contrast the apparent downhill ride of a love story that was built on a blunt lie, Marianne is still shown in a good light. She ends up taking her life to save Max from coming under the cross-hair of a traitor.

The movie ends with a letter she had written for her daughter predicting her imminent downfall. We hear her accept her husband’s name, in the end, calling herself “Marianne Vatan”, that’s when the curtain closes.

Moments to Reflect

Allied movie ends with a poignant veracity. Marianne stood by Max even though she was in the wrong. In all that murky quilts of suspense, she was still doing the right thing. And you missed all of that because the director had you convinced. Convinced with his lore that was supposed to put her in the wrong light. Then eventually he comes back to it where we see all that was right there. The way she looked at him, and the way he looked back. Love poised for hours between. The point where she goes to her room as if going to read Max’s feigned message, but that was in fact intended to write that final letter anticipating the end, coming out clean.

still of a smitten Marion Cotillard in Allied

That moment in the end where she waits, and waits for Max to come out of a pub where he goes to slay her handler, will bring vibes of uncertainty home once again. It is the beauty of the movie that it forever keeps you guessing. Even though you see the end coming, you still suspect her of her unsought actions, of what she might do, or what was she really thinking, on which side of the court she really stood?

It is only after that trigger goes that you begin to see the good in her. Alas! It’s too late then, and the damage is already done. The dead is proclaimed. The train has already left!

Other Amazing Bits

You can’t also overlook the fact to what lengths Max goes to establish the truth. It is after all his life and his everything that stands at stake.  A constant gurgle of pain that forces him to take matters in his own hand. His desperation oozes out his eyes, and he can’t settle down until he finds the truth for himself, not for the government, but for himself first. Very powerful!

You also can’t help but wonder the truth should have actually come from her, instead of him finding out about it from someone else. At least that’s the cardinal basis of any relationship. So it was slowly crawling towards an end nevertheless. A debatable topic indeed.

Anoher one of the beauties the movie aces is the depiction of a child delivery amidst chaos. That frame instantly puts you in the right poetic zone – a psychotic world unperturbed by things that are happening on earth, delivering justice with decimating bombs, whilst another one croons for mercy, silently playing sitting ducks following nature’s intended way. The juxtaposition of killing and bringing forth a life is highly commendable.

You can order Allied Movie here:

The Final Verdict

Mental games that Allied plays will have your heart in your mouth. It makes you wonder about betrayals in your life, or if not then lets you at least empathize with it. You live the turmoil alongside its protagonist, and question the decisions he took with blinding eyes.

You can’t help but feel sorry for the mental conundrum Brad goes through. His eyes wondering out loud if she is a spy or if she isn’t. At the same time you can’t overlook Marion’s enchanting performance either, the trickster who dreamed for a life.

You can check out the trailer of Allied movie here:

What Does The Tree of Life Movie Mean? | Epic Tree Life Quotes | Analysis and Meaning Explained

Terrence Malick’s project The Tree of Life movie has eluded many. There are epic tree life quotes strewn across the movie that are deeply satisfying. To say that The Tree of Life was one hell of a baffling movie would be an understatement. It doesn’t skim mainstream and that’s why it is hard for some to fathom. But in a whirlpool of avant-garde films, if you take a look at its ballsy attempt at trying something out of the ordinary, The Tree of Life movie beats everything else to pulp.

The Tree of Life movie is a beast that tops avant-garde elite cinemas. Why, you ask? Read on to find out:

The Tree of Life Movie Explained

There is a heart melting metaphorical poem residing in Emmanuel Lubezki’s spectacular frames, a bold defying question that Terrence Malick poses via human pang, and tries to answer through our creator’s perspective. Also, The Tree of Life movie retains a touching screenplay that amazes you invariably with every stellar Lubezki image.

The Tree of Life movie must have perturbed many. But if you don’t attempt to give it a fair shot at explaining itself, then you have no right calling yourself a true movie buff.

To those who didn’t get what was going on in the movie, I have tried to explain it as unequivocally as possible, rhyming things through its thoughtfulness. I hope it helps in putting things in perspective.

Theme of The Tree of Life Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

Even before you try to understand the movie, get this beforehand – There is no proper timeline followed. So, if you are expecting a series of certain frames to go in order, it simply won’t. You have to remember images on the go, and what they are trying to tell you with every change. Alright? Okay, let’s go!

still of cosmos life in tree of life movie

The titular name of the movie has been aptly named so since it is trying to present us a map to the universe. It goes spiritual, cosmic and skims human psyche at the same time. That being said, it tries to cover all the 10 prominent spheres that acquaint us with mystical extant powers. They are also known as Sephirot.

As the movie commences, we are shown a formless representation of the divine. It could reflect our creator’s formless state, since the real form of what has created us is still unknown.

“Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door.”

You can hear in the background a surging roar of the sea and squawking Seagulls as we look at that artless form flicker. That is enough to make you understand it is the protagonist (here Jack) who has come at His door, trying to justify his seeking Him with the aforementioned line of how and why.

Narration

Moving on let’s focus on the theme of the movie. Just like every movie has a theme by which it is supposed to bide by, The Tree of Life movie too has one, and an exceptional one per se. It gets expounded via the following diegesis.

“The nuns taught us there are two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it, when love is smiling through all things. They taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.”

As thoughtful words of Mrs. O’Brien go in the background, we see her younger self embellish the screen. She is an epitome of grace. A personification of joy and mirth, and all the good, pleasant and buoyant things in the world. She plays with other elements of grace, meek harmless animals – like a baby goat, or cows. Then we see Nature – her father (here the men) who appears just when she talks about the existence of nature in their lives.

“I will be true to you. Whatever comes.”

Then the aforesaid is dropped all of a sudden. I believe it could be reflective of a time when Mrs. O’Brien had accepted Nature as a part of her life. Either through her marrying vows, or her offering herself to the universe in the form of prayers.

Demise of the Son

Then we time travel to a time in the future in The Tree of Life movie, where Mrs. O’Brien receives a letter that reads to her the demise of her son. Both Mrs. O’Brien and Mr. O’Brien take it heavily.

“I just wanna die to be with him.”

Death is nature. It is part of Universe’s way of creating and destroying things that has forever eluded us. But to her, it appears like an unfair, unjust act that has ripped off her son and taken him away from her.

People try to justify the ways of nature with condolences:

“I know the pain will, it will pass in time, you know? It might seem hard, my saying that, but it’s true.”

To that she replies:

“I don’t want it to.”

The way of the creator, the unseen is justified with a beautiful line then:

“He sends flies to wounds that He should heal.”

Grief is havocking. At the same time, it is pure. The purest of human notion that lets you brood profusely on things you could have done differently to change the outcome. So Mr. O’Brien laments for the first time succumbing to the ways of grace:

“I never got a chance to tell him how sorry I was. I made him feel shame, my shame. That poor boy. That poor boy.”

Jack’s Memories

That’s where the second flicker of the same artless light consumes us. Jack’s talking again. This time with himself, trying to remember his brother.

“How did you come to me? In what shape? In what disguise?”

That’s also the place in The Tree of Life movie where we get to see an even further future memory glimpse of Jack standing right next to a doorway. It could be a place in his memory, where he is trying to reconcile with himself. We see seagulls for real this time too.

still of Sean Penn as Jack in the tree of life movie

We then find Jack in gloom waking up to the news of his brother’s death. His distant wife who doesn’t have the right words for him is just staring at him. She is a victim to human nature, and Terence makes sure of it that they don’t speak in those fleeting frames. At another point in his office, Jack even though miffed with dusky thoughts, can’t help but stare at a woman who passes him by. That’s again human nature coming at play.

“The world has gone to the dogs. People are greedy. Keep getting worse.”

Within split seconds come images of trees, an entity that has stayed with us at all times, even as we have evolved, and Jack begins to wonder:

“How did I lose you? Wandered? Forgot you?”

Searching his Brother

That’s when we see Jack in a desert. This could be analogous to barren corners of his brain, and he is seeking memories of his lost brother therefrom.

A glimpse shows us a lady who has found his little brother and is kissing him. She is yet another paragon of grace. She could be an angelic memory or a messenger that has him, that also symbolizes the dead boy is now in good hands, with grace. That’s when Jack also finds an image of his little brother at a sea asking him to find him. It could very well hint that Jack wishes to come to terms by seeking faintest memories of him so as to succumb to reconciliation.

Right after that we see Jack imagining himself home, checking on her mother and wondering how she took it. Her screams echo, and he feels it in his bones that it didn’t go well for her.

Mrs. O’Brien is still talking to the almighty meanwhile.

“Was I false to you? Lord? Why? Where were you?”

Incessant Frames of Cosmos

That’s one of the high points of The Tree of Life movie when the real Lubezki magic begins to flow. And it flows straight for 16 wondrous minutes. That gets complemented gorgeously by Alexandre Desplat’s awe-inspiring music. In the form of Nebulas, gases, flickers, shimmers, cosmic energy and big bang, we find our creator answering her.

image of cosmos universe in the tree of life movie

“Did you know? Who are we to you? Answer me.”

When a mother demands God to answer, asking if He even cares, Malick shows us our creator answering her through stunning frames of creation. A poetic gesture manifesting universe, big bang, volcanic eruptions, hot springs, and evolution ensue, as if He is trying to answer that he was busy creating, balancing, maintaining and nurturing the universe, all this time.

“We cry to you. My soul. My son. Hear us.”

We find nature creating grace too. The advent of life with an uplifting music, cells splitting, forming new lives in the process and thus giving rise to multi-celled organisms.

The Dino Era

Life began with water. So we are introduced to a lot of water animals. We see an injured amphibian dinosaur near a water body trying to figure out the gravity of its wound. It has been caught in an ugly side of nature. Something it doesn’t have control over. We see blood in water, and then a hoard of sharks. They are nothing but aquatic behemoths that are simply balancing life even in its blunt ugliness by killing ways of grace.

the tree of life movie water dinosaur injured

There is a beautiful frame wherein we find a predator sparing the life of an easy prey, an injured dinosaur, showing it mercy. It simply goes on to show how grace was present at all times, defying nature silently.

We see that destined meteor heading towards the earth that had disrupted the experimental life of dinosaurs back then, paving way for human life.

We once again reach Jack’s perspective who is scampering along barren lands, still trying to find the spot of placation in his brain.

“You spoke to me through her. You spoke to me through the sky. The trees. Before I knew I loved you. Believed in you. When did you first touch my heart?”

Waco Origins

He is now trying to remember how grace had him from the very start. This is the part that takes us back in time wherein he was conceived by Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien played powerfully by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

Pregnancy has never been such poetically depicted before. We find Mrs. O’Brien calling out children, whispering into their ears, showing them gates to life, steps to the world, summoning them at all times. You see different types of children there, which could be suggestive of the process of fertilization and then how despite all odds only one makes it in the end. Here Jack! A child swimming in water leaving his room (womb) behind could be intimating us of how a womb is a world per se  for foetus.

still of Jack being taken by Mrs. O'Brien in Tree of life

We find Jack growing up as Mrs. O’Brien helps him at all times. Then comes another child, and we see Jack becoming wary of all the attention that is given to him instead. There is repressed jealousy that once again directs us towards nature, something we have no control over. Then we see bubbles. A sign of grace! Then a man dying, a violent act of nature yet again.

Amongst other things of nature that follow are: a dog barking at Jack, him being afraid, his father scolding him, yet another baby etc. Then at the same time grace stays close by in the form of her mother caring for them all, their celebrating Halloween, lighting up sparklers, mother reading a story book, playing with water, Jack holding his brother’s hand, good night kisses and also them playing with each other.

Nature and Grace Speaking through Things

Whilst tucking children in bed Mrs O’Brien is asked to share a past good memory. She tells them about the time she went for a ride in a plane. Then we actually see her fly in the air which is in fact her telling them that it felt as if she was flying for real.

“Mother. Make me good. Brave.”

There are glimpses of miscreants showed, the bad elements in life (nature), and then a frame that shows Mrs. O’Brien helping a miscreant drink water. (grace)

“Where do you live? Are you watching me? I want to know what you are. I want to see what you see.”

We find contrasting images, in the Tree of Life movie, of their mother trying to wake them up with their father’s. The latter always compelled them to comply with a glum face. Whilst the former would mischievously yet gracefully wake them up with ice, bringing smiles to their faces.

Lessons by Nature

Then comes remarkable lessons from the father:

“Don’t do like I did. Promise me that. If you are looking for something to happen, that was it. That was life. You lived it.”

Then at one point we see Mr. O’Brien using this beauty of a line:

“Wrong people go hungry, die. Wrong people get loved. The world lives by trickery. If you want to succeed you can’t be too good.”

Without Nature

We find a boy ending up getting drowned and a boy razed by fire, which compels Jack to question God’s existence.

“Where were you? You let a boy die. You’ll let anything happen. Why should I be good, if you aren’t?”

Jack succumbs to vandalism, animal abuse and trespassing when his father goes to a long business trip. The absence of Nature, goes on to create a subset of nature. His heart fills up with guilt when he finds himself getting weirdly attracted to a neighbor, and ends up stealing her nightgown. This again is an aftermath of a wild uncontrollable act of nature. All of it gets aptly justified by:

“Things you got to learn. How can we know stuff until we look?”

His mother on the other hand keeps teaching them good:

“Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.”

There’s malice, hatred that flows as part of nature in Jack, and there’s nothing he could do to feel otherwise. In a deep reminiscing voice Jack says:

“How do I get back…where they are?”

There is this moment where he accidentally takes a joke too far, and ends up shooting his brother’s finger. He goes abounding with guilt as the backdrop says:

“What I want to do I can’t do. I do what I hate.”

He is truly sorry and is instantly forgiven by his brother too. It is like an unnamed feeling for him, but it shatters him beyond limit nevertheless. He learns compassion, sympathy – the ways of grace.

What was it you showed me? I didn’t know how to name you then. But I would see it was you. Always you were calling me.

Hatred for his Father

There are conspicuous moments of abomination in The Tree of Life movie wherein we see Jack hating the guts out of his father. He hates to see his mother being fine with it all. That grace can’t live without nature, and vice versa. Jack wishing his father dead is like a person hating nature. The inevitable segment that is blunt and yet quintessential in order to ensure that life goes on.

Finally we see Mr. O’Brien realizing his big mistake:

“I wanted to be loved because I was great. A big man. I’m nothing. Look at the glory around us. Trees and birds. I lived in shame. I dishonored it all and didn’t notice the glory. I’m a foolish man.”

Jack has never seen his father so fallen or lost.

“Father. Mother. Always you wrestle inside me. Always you will.”

Mr. O’Brien realizes he hasn’t done anything substantial when they are forced to move out of their house, and asks for forgiveness.

“You boys are about all I’ve done in life. Otherwise I’ve drawn zilch. You are all I have. You are all I want to have.”

In the last moments of Jack’s memories we see how they move on ending one of the crucial chapters in their lives. It aces with a beautiful quote too:

“The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by. Do good to them. Wonder. Hope.”

You can order The Tree of Life Movie from here:


The End of Time Explained

We slowly fade away from Jack’s memory and head towards reality, where we find the mother, Mrs. O’Brien coming out of her grief. She has come to terms with all her questions with the Lord.

We also see the grown up Jack coming out of his trance, for a while too:

Keep us, guide us, till the end of time.

We finally see what looks like the end of time. A point where souls come to rekindle. Images of dead calling out people from the grave, to reconcile is evident there. Jack finally reaches the spot, a beach, where he finds every dead sauntering along trying to find each other. So, even though the place looks like a figment, it is a glimpse shown to him about how everything pans out in the end. Yes, there are seagulls squawking over them.

image of sean penn as jack in the tree of life movie beach

Finding Each Other

Jack finds his mother, and his dead brother. They are happy to see him. His whole family is there. His old man is proud of him. Love is everywhere. Mrs. O’Brien’s joy as she finds her dead child would bring tears to your eyes.

She then kisses a shriveled hand which could be a random one or could be her mother’s too, it’s hard to say.  She then leads her child through a door and is able to reconcile with the sad truth finally, and yet understands the way of the nature.

“I give him to you. I give you my son.”

It looks like there are angels around him, or elements of grace that help her overcome grief. They are talking to her with hand gestures and nimble movements, and she comprehends the way of living with their elemental energy.

We see a smiling Jack in the end as if he has realized the ultimate truth, and has come to terms with it too. He feels lighter and better.

The Final Verdict

Of course there are other explanations possible, but what would be spot on would be Terrence’s own thinking. I would love to hear it though and see how close I was to getting him.

Movies like The Tree of Life are rare gems that need to be celebrated.  If you have a knack for watching the unusual I would highly recommend you to watch The Tree of Life movie at once. It is an esoteric flick that will definitely blow your mind away. However, you need to stay on the same page in order to truly understand the movie for what it is. If it isn’t your forte, I would say don’t bother.  Because it could be really vexing for some.

You can check out the trailer of The Tree of Life movie here:

The Big Short Review (2015)

Can we ever forget the big bad ugly “Great Recession”? Just when you were trying real hard to forget, bam! comes The Big Short, forcing you to relive the pain again. But wait! Don’t be fooled just yet. It isn’t like any other mainstream movie, or a drama to focus on the severity the great fall brought along, or the lives it uprooted, or the devastating aftermath it brought along with the punishing tide, rather a prequel to how some geniuses had envisaged the collapse way before, and decided to swim across.

Adam McKay packs in an excellent exposition to depict the players of The Big Short, with Ryan Gosling as Jared Venett, the guy with exceptional presentation skills (yes watch out for that bit!), Christian Bale as Michael Burry, the autistic polymath who was the first one to figure it all out, Steve Carell as Mark Baum, the lunatic front-runner to milk out the mortgage shortcomings, Brad Pitt as Ben Rickert, the laconic beast-banker who mentored Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley played by John Magaro and Finn Wittrock to bet against the dwindling housing market. McKay’s direction is one of a kind, as he slams frames mid-way to not focus on apparent conversations. He steers in its comic factor by asking characters to look at the camera mid-way for emphasis. Occasionally playing recorded video frames to make it all look more appealing. You can almost perceive the effort he has put in to break down the gorgeous Michael Lewis book.

“You know what I hate about fucking banking? It reduces people to numbers.”

Screenplay of the movie is extraordinary. There are so many words selected from profound areas that fill in the voids of sentience. Dramatic bits in the movie are just so right, that you always feel connected with the adrenaline vibe. There are so many banking terms incorporated in the flick expounded in laymen terms by renowned personalities like Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, Selena Gomez and Richard Thaler that make things easy to gobble.

The moment the flick reaches its climax, you know what’s coming, but you still end up with a feeling of satisfaction for those who managed to milk the Great depressing cow with a smug face that barely read “We told you so!”

The fact that it isn’t confined to just one perspective drives home its enthralling factor. The story of the people, who saw the monster coming from a distance, makes you want to plunge in the bandwagon too, but alas the procession is long gone and recession pervades. It gives you a sense of contentment to see the hefty checks protagonists managed to weave out of a disaster. It is inspirational in a way and makes you want to get instant rich too. Well, you can do that! Just be a genius and watch out for such loopholes in the system.

Fury Review (2014)

“Best job ever!”

Fury is a thrilling war movie.

Nothing gorgeous like a ‪‎Pitt‬ movie that eases with an emotional frenzy, spectacular action and head-bursting gore. You top it with great actors like ‪Labeouf‬, ‪Bernthal‬ and ‪Pena‬, you have got yourself a team of awesomeness that can work wonders given proper screen time. Comes wrapped to all of that is a great screenplay that furbishes an already great yet wicked tale of WWII.

‎Ayer‬ buffs up his game in the World War flick with a tank called Fury and ravages everything that reads German through it. As it tramples dead soldiers, and battles fierce tanks like ‪Tiger‬, glimpses from top-notch games like Call of Duty and Company of Heroes come gushing in. The score oozes out brilliance and works like a charm in the background, and uplifts everything that read blood.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

Ayer gave a great deal of attention to the flick’s presentation. He eases into the beginning with a war planet, a Kraut and a white horse and fades away with the crossroads that Fury never left. He puts in a novice behind the wheel for us to watch the sadistic world around him through a typist eyes. One of the great bits from the flick is the conversation that disrupts the peace in the German’s house showing true colours of what savage is, through Bernthal’s exceptional acting. The strategy ‪Wardaddy‬ forces on and the teamwork that Fury bears, reflect the war reality with pizazz.

Pitt’s acting demands a definite ovation at times like when he bursts open the dam of wrath on finding a Kraut who was being taken in for questioning, or when he helps ‪‎Lerman‬ grow a pair. Death lurks around as the movie climaxes. The team joins their leader into the pits of fire, as the Wardaddy calls Fury his home.

Great stuff!