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Charlotte Gray

Starring Cate Blanchett; Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon and Rupert Perry-Jones
Screenplay by Jeremy Brock
Based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks
Directed by Gillian Armstrong

IN SHORT: The worst of the year. [Rated PG-13 for some war related violence, sensuality, and brief strong language. 120 minutes]

What have you got when you construct a movie whose script has no idea what story it is supposed to be telling? Whose director hasn't noticed that characters important to the second half of the story aren't developed in the first half? Whose love story isn't romantic and whose resolution isn't the slightest bit believable? You've got Charlotte Gray a movie which is almost laughably bad.

We used the word "almost" strictly to mollify the few who will find this movie to be really, really, really touching and important. They tend to write for the slick magazines and like to see their names in the teevee advertisements. Charlotte Gray is so lacking in the usual support mechanisms of film story creation that it is what it is, a painful grab (or misguided attempt) for an Oscar for star Cate Blanchett. Yep, Ms. Blanchett gets to splay emotions from A to B and all of 'em come out of nowhere.

With all the intensity of a potboiler romance novel, young Charlotte Gray (Cate Blanchett) falls hard for a dashing, debonair R.A.F. pilot (Rupert Perry-Jones) ready to fight the good fight for jolly old England. Set in WWII, we are introduced to those mighty -- and mightily trained -- civilians who are let loose in occupied France as couriers and spies. Charlotte has been trained, we are informed, to lock her emotions away while she is at work. She, of course, forgets everything she's ever been taught because her attentions is focused solely on finding her true love, who has been shot down (which is why she volunteered for the duty).

In France, Charlotte botches her first job and is hidden by the French Resistance (Billy Crudup as the required hunk of the piece) in plain sight as a nanny/ teacher to a widower (Michael Gambon) and a pair of Jewish children whose parents have been taken away in the night by the Nazi horde. It would be nice if the film developed this relationship since it becomes important to the endgame of the film. It doesn't. It does, however, feature Ms. Blanchett as often as possible, to the exclusion of all else.

We call it "Look at me acting! Give me an Oscar" syndrome and consider it to be a waste of your time. It was certainly a waste of ours, but that's our job.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Charlotte Gray, he would have paid . . .


Don't bother.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.