At the movies in SA this week

At the movies in SA this week

FILM: ALLIED

CAST: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard

DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis

For secret World War II operatives Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), the key to survival is never being truly known by anyone. They are experts in deception, play-acting, second-guessing and assassination. When they accidentally fall for each other in the middle of an extraordinarily risky mission, their one hope is to leave all the double-dealing behind – but instead, suspicion and danger become the core of their wartime marriage as husband-and-wife are pitted against each other in an escalating, potentially lethal test of loyalty, identity and love…with global consequences.

From Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis, the director behind ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Cast Away’ and ‘Flight’, comes ‘Allied’, at once a mesmerizing espionage thriller, sweeping war drama and passionate romance between two assassins who may be fated soulmates or deadly enemies – or both. In a “sumptuous, visually evocative” production that roams from Casablanca to London’s Blitz days to German-occupied France, Zemeckis has sought to create the kind of grand tale that flourished in Golden Hollywood – full of mystery, thrills and romantic heat – yet told with “all the richly immersive power of 21st Century cinema.”

The film unites Best Actor Oscar nominee Pitt (‘Moneyball’, ‘The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button’) and Best Actress Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (‘La Vie En Rose’, ‘Two Days, One Night’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’) as the two crafty spies caught between their feverish feelings for one another and an act of duplicity that could detonate everything they care about.

The year is 1942, and 26 countries have just aligned into the Allied Forces to fight the Nazi threat overrunning Europe. On an urgent assignment for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), Canadian airman Max Vatan parachutes into occupied Casablanca to take out Germany’s ambassador. There, he encounters ravishing French resistance fighter Marianne – chosen to pose as his spouse. But their growing flame for each other soon becomes more than an act, even as they face devastating odds. Daring to reunite in London, their love only deepens and they start a family. But then comes the day Max is informed his idyllic new family life may be a monumental deception – sparking a desperate chase after the truth through a potentially lethal maze of borders and alliances both international and personal.

FILM: SPLIT

CAST: James McAvoy, Haley Lu Richardson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley

DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan

Writer/director/producer M. Night Shyamalan returns to the captivating grip of ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Signs’ with ‘Split’, which delves into the mysterious recesses of one man’s fractured, gifted mind. Following the breakout hit ‘The Visit’, which grossed almost $100 million worldwide, Shyamalan returns with this thriller being hailed in certain quarters as the filmmaker’s most terrifying film to date.

Though Kevin (James Mcavoy: ‘X-Men series’, ‘Wanted’) has evidenced 23 personalities, each with unique physical attributes, to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Tony Award winner Betty Buckley: ‘The Happening’, TV’s ‘Oz’), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others.

Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the wilful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor: ‘JOY’, ‘The Witch’), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him, as well as everyone around him as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.James McAvoy

For the film The Guardian calls “a masterful blend of Hitchcock and horror,” Shyamalan and producer Jason Blum (‘The Purge’ and ‘Insidious’ series, ‘The Gift’) reassembled their core team from ‘The Visit’, their successful 2015 collaboration.

Producer Blum, known for his industry innovation in helping to shepherd small-budget films into worldwide blockbusters, discusses the partnership: “‘Split’ isn’t a typical small-budget film; it’s a large vision on a limited budget. It is not CGI or hundreds of millions of dollars that makes ‘Split’ feel so epic – it’s Night’s incredibly provocative story.”

With a more intimate setup, Shyamalan was able to primarily focus his energies on the story and character development by eliminating some of the noise and variables that come with a larger film. “It’s easy to knock me out of my comfort zone, which is a reason why I make smaller movies,” Shyamalan says. “That way I can turn down certain factors so I can hear that creative voice telling me if something we’re doing is off track.”

Shyamalan felt there were only a handful of actors who could play the demanding role of a man with 23 personalities in ‘Split’. It was paramount for the writer/director that Kevin’s personalities not be viewed as caricatures, but as fleshed out personas that audiences would embrace with sympathy. To that end, Shyamalan sought out James McAvoy.

Shyamalan saw the actor as absolutely up for the challenge. “This is the most complex character I’ve ever written. I was thinking, ‘Does he understand what I’m asking him to do in this piece?’ And he did; I’ve never worked with an actor so fearless.”

McAvoy was immediately intrigued with the story’s many twists and turns. “I read the first 10 pages and thought, ‘Wow, what is this?’ Then I read the next 10 pages and thought, ‘What is that?’” he says. “It felt like I was being continually confronted with something completely different. That’s the joy of what Night does so well. He keeps an audience on their toes trying to figure out what the film is: Are we watching a thriller, a psychological drama, horror, sci-fi or something supernatural? And this film is all of those genres.”