Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Steven Knight
Robert Zemeckis has a great resume of films under his belt. Back to the Future, Forest Gump, and even had moderate success in the horror genre. Yet it is drama that his name invokes thoughts of so when Allied featured a trailer that shows Allied as a dramatic thriller I figure this may be something worth watching as he has mastered both. I was completely wrong on both fronts of drama and thriller. With a single writer for the screenplay, I will assume this is more the writer’s fault than Zemeckis.
The plot is direct and simple. Man spy meets woman spy in during World War II and both eventually fall in love. First off their romance seems hurried and rushed, but oh well we got lots of thrills on the thriller side of the house coming right? WRONG. The second half of the film falters as each and every attempt to show her as a double agent is not utilized. The trailer for this film is exactly the tone and writing that should have remained consistent throughout the film. So how would better writing made this film better? Well, let us begin. So from here on are spoilers so be warned!
The fact she let the one German woman live is a key plot point I would use again later in the film as the woman bent for revenge using a neighbor sympathetic to the Germans to help spy on Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard’s characters. Stay with me here I will come back to that point. Now when Brad Pitt is told his wife is a spy by the mysterious “V Section” and that communications coming from their neighborhood are coming from a woman this is key. I would then proceed with a cat and mouse game where Brad Pitt leaves for work, but instead stays behind to follow his wife through the town visiting friends and possible German contacts. Now Marion Cotillard’s character is a very detailed oriented spy and this would be perhaps an intense nail biting will he be ‘seen’ scene. Next continue the film as they did, with Brad going to find people who can confirm her identity. Then they threw us a curve ball in the film by Brad’s colleague at work mentioning V Section could be running a ‘game’ on him to test him for a position. Now why throw a red herring and not utilize it? Setup a scene where Brad tries to chase down if it is a game or test but meets a dead end. Maybe have him track down the agent from V section and break in his house. Then the bar scene with the piano is a key scene I would have greatly improved upon. Have her reluctant to play the piano, but after some shouting from Brad and a showcase of the gun in his hand she starts to play it. Now earlier in the film Brad showed her and a Nazi officer how thorough he was as a spy by knowing the formula for potassium. She would stop playing the song on the piano, and think it was enough. Then have Brad force her to play the rest for perhaps she only learned that first part. She refuses and cries and wants to run away. He takes her back to their home as he gets a notified that the false message was sent. He has no choice but to execute her by his own hand (as they setup in the film). He locks the doors and goes up stairs to execute his wife as soldiers and agents of V section come to supposedly arrest him for conducting his own investigation and potentially abiding her as a spy. Brad is torn emotionally and flashbacks to the words she first told him about ‘emotions are real, that’s how it works’ that Marion told him when they met. As the people are busting in his house he shoots her. Then they announce to him they were wrong and although the messages were coming from their neighborhood it was coming from the babysitter’s house. So she was NOT a double agent after all. Instead her letting the German woman survive earlier in the film came back to hurt them all. She came to find them in London and used the old lady babysitter to know when they were not home. Flashbacks now can show her entering their home and installing listening devices and writing down the message from his notepad. They arrest the babysitter and other German woman and show the house was bugged, etc. Then Brad takes his gun and kills the old German lady in the street. Now THAT is how you take a film from ‘ehh okay’…to WOW that was great!
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.