A SOLID director and cast make a rare stumble in their careers, turning a potentially cracking spy/romance story into a dull, lifeless and flat as a plank of wood affair.
After Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) teams up with French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) and successfully assassinates the German ambassador, they fall in love and start a family.
Living in hiding in London, it comes to Max’s attention that despite being a stay-at-home mum and raising their daughter, Marianne may be a spy.
He goes to great lengths to prove her innocence, all the while afraid he may actually uncover a sea of lies.
An ordinarily terrific cast staggers under the direction of ordinarily reliable Robert Zemeckis, who seems like he was asleep during filming and everyone else followed by example.
Instead of spiking tension, the film remains strangely passion-less with the romance between the leads almost as non-existent as the suspense.
Max risks his life to find out of Marianne is really who she says she is, flying solo into enemy territory, but it is treated with surprising nonchalance.
Key moments such as a love scene within a car in the middle of a desert storm and giving birth in the centre of a war zone are awkward and borderline comical.
The earliest scenes are the strongest as the two strangers pose as husband and wife, establishing how well they are each trained in lying convincingly.
But there is little pay off to this set up, as the potential for ultimate emotional devastation is downplayed throughout.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris
Two and a half stars
Review by Julian Wright
In cinemas now