Director Robert Zemeckis tones down the special effects he is known for to helm a wartime romance. He strives for an epic World War II romantic saga but overdoes the romance to the point it parodies itself.
The film looks stunning from the set design to the impeccable clothes worn by it's leads, Brad Pitt (Max) and Marion Cotillard (Marianne). Movie stars in the old fashion sense, Mr. Pitt and Ms. Cotillard attempt to light up the screen like some modern day Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. They work so hard to make you believe their love and attraction that it goes over the top to the point of laughable.
Max and Marianne meet in Casablanca during World War II, spend days getting to know one another, carry out a successful mission and then it's off to London and suddenly a year later, Marianne is accused of being a German spy. Is she or isn't she? It's up to Max to find out the truth to protect the woman he loves and their daughter. It all sounds romantic and suspenseful but never really ups the ante and leaves plot points dangling and falling flat.
Mr. Zemeckis has a scene in the desert where Max and Marianne make love in a car during a sandstorm. In the very next scene, they are back at home with not a speck of sand anywhere to be found on their car or themselves. A sandstorm like the one depicted would have buried their car and likely have smothered both of them but it looks great for the story. The screenplay by Steven Knight introduces Max's lesbian sister (played by a wasted Lizzie Caplan) in three short scenes. To what end? Her character is there for no other reason than to kiss her lover on a dare from some drunken soldiers. Really?
Max is a captain in the Royal Canadian Air force but reports to a British officer played by Jared Harris. He spies for the Resistance in Casablanca but is not really a spy. His role in the film is just one of many confusing and contradicting moments. The stars are beautiful, their clothes are beautiful but the story is a melodramatic bore. I did like the realistic resolution at the end though.