My Enemy, My Love
Steven Knight, the man who scripted the movies Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises, Locke and Burnt and created the British gangster TV series sensation Peaky Blinders, says he based his screenplay for director Robert Zemeckis’ espionage thriller Allied, opening in theaters tomorrow, on a true World War II story. Two undercover spies fell deeply in love while on a mission behind enemy lines and defied intelligence agency guidelines by marrying. When one partner fell under suspicion of being a double agent passing secrets to the enemy, the other spouse was duty-bound to terminate his or her mate immediately, or face a death sentence for treason. This dilemma befalls Max (Brad Pitt) and Marianne (Marion Cotillard) in Zemeckis’ rousing and romantic period spectacle, which promises to evoke the grandly passionate wartime suspense yarns of Hollywood’s Golden Age with two decidedly glamorous stars at its epicenter. Already this year Twilight Time fans have explored the tragic yet moving costs of unexpected love in wartime espionage in the dandy Eye of the Needle (1981),released in September and starring Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan as the unexpected, love-and-loyalty-tested souls in a comparably tension-packed “dark thriller with a tragic heart” (Julie Kirgo’s words) in which Sutherland’s “Needle” character mournfully admits, “The war has come down to the two of us.” But even in a world not engulfed in warfare, the duality of romantic attraction and calculated duplicity between solitary yet driven souls is profoundly explored in another TT title teaming two of the most iconic actors in cinema and a world-class filmmaker: Mississippi Mermaid (1969), written and directed by François Truffaut, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve, and based on a 1947 noir story by Cornell Woolrich (whose output proved a rich vein for adaptation by Hollywood during World War II and far beyond). Linked only via correspondence, Belmondo’s lonely tobacco plantation owner and Deneuve’s beautiful mail-order bride both bring hidden past secrets to their first meeting when she arrives at his island home, but their connection is immediate and powerful. And as in Allied and Eye of the Needle, the events that follow soon turn traumatic and murderous and cause them to go on the run, even as their love binds them more tightly with a volatile mixture of fascination and dread. With its big-budget pedigree and technical bravura, Allied will deliver lots of visual pyrotechnics in conjunction with the high-stakes predicament of its photogenic leads facing the deadly potential of the film’s tagline: “The enemy is listening.” What the TT hi-def Blu-rays of Eye of the Needle (directed by Richard Marquand) and Mississippi Mermaid offer on a scale geographically smaller but on a comparable or perhaps more seismically emotional level, is the alchemy of ecstasy and pain love can offer. When your love is your enemy, brace for fireworks.