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Charlotte Gray was something of a box-office disaster in the States, which damaged its reputation in the rest of the world. While it's not hard to see why American audiences didn't go for it, it's harder to understand the malice European critics greeted it with. It's a pretty good portrait of resistance infighting (the Communists are setup by the De Gaullists as liberation approaches), local collaboration (the schoolteacher gladly helps the Nazis root out Jewish families) and the nuts and bolts of resistance work. No great heroics or big setpieces, which is probably why it tanked: the big climax is more an emotional risk than the rescue audiences probably wanted. Performances are mostly good - Blanchett is much better than contemporary reviews would have you believe in particular. There are better films, but it's a good movie and for my money better than the alright Lucie Aubrac. I liked it enough to buy the DVD.
If nothing else, the superb cinematography makes Charlotte Grey a winner. The picture is filmed through a creative and sensitive eye with wonderful angles, evocative moods and sensitive textures and shades. The rain and snow outside the train window in the opening scenes is somehow just so right. But photography aside, this is a gripping and well acted work that will satisfy fans of both war movies and love stories. Michael Gambon gives an Oscar worthy performance. It's also so nice to see a film that does not have one of those dreadful syrupy and impractical happy endings. Not that it's a totally sad ending. Call it a bitter sweet ending. In any case this film is an absolute delight from the titles to the closing scene.
I adore this movie. It is an extraordinary tale of one woman's courage and passion during World War Two. Cate Blanchett is remarkable and vibrant as always. She is really one of the most talented actresses. Billy Crudup is very charismatic and charming. This movie is both beautiful and tragic. It is definitely worth watching if you are looking for a film that will keep you fascinated and entralled. It's worth renting just to see the excellent chemistry between Blanchett and Crudup.
This film has a genuine feel for the grand old tradition of Hollywood war romances. It's elegantly crafted escapism of the highest order, beautiful to look at, with the added bonus of an intelligent script and great performances all around. As I've seen time and again where poor endings mar otherwise good films, I'm always keen on how the curtain falls. This one had what I felt was a great curtain line that nicely tied in the heroine's odyssey of identity confusion and moral ambiguity in the shadow world of undercover war espionage (a "gray" that was more than just her name) to her eventual discovery of self, strength, and purpose as her true character is slowly forged in the crucible of danger and strife. As war brings out the very worst of qualities in humanity, so too can heightened expressions of bravery, compassion, and loyalty serve to greatly ennoble the human spirit in times of blood and sorrow. The movie does a nice job of highlighting that theme in several of its characters. Cate Blanchett does a wonderful job with the title role and this film is a strong 9 out of 10.
Charlotte Grey is the title character of this movie, set in WW2 Britain
France. Played by the extremely gifted Cate Blanchett, Charlotte is a
Scottish woman who, after having fallen in love with an army pilot, Peter
Gregory (Rubert Penry-Jones), decides to participate in the English
to help the French resistance. A fluent French-speaker, Charlotte takes on
the identity of Dominique, a married Parisienne, who's moved to the
Vichy-governed part of France.
As Dominique, Charlotte gets involved with Julian Lavade, his father and two young Jewish boys, whose parents have just been taken away by the Vichy police. She soon realizes how serious the situation is, and that no one is to be trusted. And her courage and determination sees her through.
Cate Blanchett shows yet again what an amazing actress she is, the new Meryl Streep, but with a warmer aura. Watching her on the screen never gets boring, and even though the movie is somewhat slow moving at times, it really left me craving for more. 4 out of 5!
This film held my attention the entire time. The cinematography was absolutely stunning. This is a beautiful film. I was taken in by the beauty that Cate Blanchett and Billy Crudup possess. It wasn't the most exciting cinema ever, but none-the-less it still had it's wonderfully planned moments. Worth a watch!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is no actress like Cate. She completely dissolves herself in the activity around her. She is the spice, not the meat, and therefore becomes the driving force in the meal.
Anderson is a rare visionary as well. She is interested in subtle misdirection. She tells a story just like others, but the story is not the matter of the experience. The meat of the story is secondary to the real but hidden focus. To even name it reduces it from that complex, fragile emotional fabric that Anderson targets. Together, these two women try something ambitious. With `Oscar and Lucinda' it succeeded wonderfully because the story was so unfamiliar. It didn't allow us to fall back on cinematic patterns. We therefore were allowed to focus on the femaleness of obsession versus compulsion. Lovely. Worth watching.
This project is no less artful or ambitious. But it fails because the story type is too familiar. People can watch it and think it is a movie about a spy in wartime France. That's too bad, because it probably will hurt the careers of these two women. Cate only a bit I assume.
This is film about what it means to be a woman: to always be in unfamiliar territory; to always have to reconcile who you `really' are with who you willingly pretend to be; to have to deal with tragedy rather than prevent it; to be of service to others while maintaining a center of self. But all that is placed behind the story, where it is supposed to be; but until we have a more cinematically literate audience, films like this will be shunted aside. Just like the women they portray.
Take the drama and intelligent dialogue from the era in which this movie is
set (1940s) and play it out with the sophisticated filming techniques and
cinematography of today and you might begin to get an idea of how great
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anybody who dares to make a French Resistance movie after the runaway
success of the TV spoof 'Allo Allo' gets 5 points for bravery, no less.
Unfortunately, bravery is not enough to make a good movie. Even bravery coupled with excellent actors, nice cinematography and an eye for detail is not enough. Any film can be ruined by a poor script and Charlote Gray is no exception.
The whole tale is just so unlikely. The way Charlotte gets 'picked up' by the British Secret Service - the guy making the first approach is such an annoying bore, why on Earth would she accept his invitation for a party instead of throwing his business card in the first available bin? Then, she falls in love with this pilot (how's that for cliché's?) and of course he is shot down on his next mission ('don't worry' he said - naturally). So, she joins the Secret Service (as simple as that) and trains to become an agent in the hope to go to France and find him. Now that is really strange - this training would take months, so why would she expect him to still be at the place he was shot down if and when she ever manages to get there? Wouldn't he likely be back in England, or in a POW camp in Germany? Anyway, training over, she gets sent to France on her first mission. But this is very strange - we don't really get any insight in what this mission actually is. She delivers a couple of radio valves to a French contact, but why these haven't simply been dropped as a parcel is a mystery. Later in the film she acts as intermediary between a locally based English agent and the Resistance. Why do they need to send in another British agent to act as intermediary? Why not let the local agent liaise with the Resistance directly? There seems no rhyme or reason for her being there at all.
At the handover of the valves, her contact is arrested (more mysteries - why does this contact insist to receive the valves when she is about to be arrested? A sure way to torture and death!) and Charlotte has to hide. But does she hide? No, not really - she goes to live with the father of the young Resistance leader under the pretext of working as a housekeeper. And next thing, she happily cycles to town as if there was no risk at all that the initial contact would have told the Gestapo all about her drop! So why is she hiding in the first place? A mystery.
And so it goes on and on - every twist of the plot makes it more unlikely. Why do the Resistance take Charlotte along when they attack a train? Why does the Resistance leader risk his life and his group by standing on the street shouting at the Germans? Why do the Germans kill the Resistance fighters in a trap instead of capturing them for interrogation? How do the Germans know where the young Jewish boys are being hidden? In the end, the whole point of the movie seems to be to paint a love triangle against a backdrop of the French Resistance - wow, we really needed a film like that! The script simply sucks, and the actors don't know what to do with it either. The cinematography is very nice, but then of course it is hard to go wrong when filming in the French countryside.
Five stars for bravery, that's what I promised, so I will stick to that.
If only that policeman had said 'Good Moaning', I would have given it six stars for even more bravery.
This film is a love story, loosely based on the real-life heroism of
WWII. Those who enjoy such films would not have been disappointed by
Unfortunately, Channel 4 decided to precede the film with the transmission of a documentary about the real-life heroines, whose personal sacrifices, pragmatic courage and strength of character shone out of my TV in a way that had me close to tears. The film, which followed, showed none of the iron self-discipline, the de-sensitising effect of war nor the constant fear of discovery these people lived with, but concerned itself with emotional story lines that would have been at home in any modern love story, loosely based on any social environment you care to choose. Far from blending into the background, along with the oppressed French population, Cate Blanchett was often portrayed parading in high heels and flattering autumnal colours, looking like a million francs
Too frequently for this viewer, it dipped into the downright absurd, e.g. having a) the male lead exposing himself to danger in an astonishing, barking tirade at German troops, b) the collaborationist French schoolteacher volunteering to the goodies that he was a snitch for the Germans and c) Charlotte herself somehow persuading a gendarme not to reveal her whereabouts to his search party colleagues, even when safely out of range of her pistol.
What a wonderful piece of history it was. And what a wonderful film could have been made of it (with the same cast too; the individual performances were all perfectly OK, especially in the minor roles).
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