We are truly living in the Golden (or Platinum) Age of Television when while watching this film, one cannot help but think that the story would make an excellent prestige drama or event series, under ten episodes total. But instead, what we ended up with was a subpar WWII spy drama that lacked urgency, tension, romance, thrills and drama. Ultimately, regardless of the shortcomings of Steven Knight's screenplay and Robert Zemeckis' directing, this film was failed by the absence of chemistry between its two leads: Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.
To be fair, Cotillard did her best and she was the more engaging of the duo. Unfortunately, Zemeckis and Knight chose to tell the story from the Pitt's character's POV and after the first third, Cotillard was relegated to the background. Her previously established characterisation wiped clean and forgotten until the penultimate scene.
With the weight of the film resting on Pitt's shoulders, he had a lot to answer for, but sadly this was truly one of his worst performance in recent years. Pitt and his (very) pretty face were under the same curse that befell Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco: Botox; and fillers in Pitt's case. A pair of dead expressionless eyes in a slightly immobile face do not win you any awards! It was so difficult to watch trying to see him emote as Cotillard danced circles around him with a twinkle in her eyes.
The film really needed to sell the story of these two complicated individuals to establish the conflict. But instead they were painted in broad strokes in the first act, washed-off in the second, and glossed through in the final. There were no urgency or depth in the characters to make the audience care.
Zemeckis and Knight should have focused the story on Cotillard. She is the one with the Best Actor award.
On the other hand, this should have really been a series instead too. Think The Crown meets The Americans meets Parade's End.
The epilogue was Zemeckis and co unabashedly trying to wriggle some residue emotions and goodwill from the audience and felt cheap and utterly unearned.
However, I do agree with one thing: this film truly deserved its Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design.