Charlotte Gray

The film is billed as a wartime romance, but the o­nly credible romance here is between Cate Blanchett and the camera. She plays Charlotte Gray, a besotted Scottish woman who joins the French Resistance as a spy during World War II to find her Royal Air Force lover, who is missing in action. In the process, she finds her true self, and another paramour, a Communist resistance leader played by a totally miscast Billy Crudup (Jesus' Son, Almost Famous). He does well as quirky, marginal characters, but real acting chops are mandatory to play war-ravaged Europeans, which calls for, at the least, a consistent accent. The rest of the cast fit well (Michael Gambon guarantees success), and the addition of two orphaned Jewish boys running from the Nazis adds some emotional weight to an otherwise dull story. But, aside from the wartime context of the French Resistance versus the Nazi machine as a much-needed history lesson for under-educated adolescents, Gillian Armstrong's (My Brilliant Career) film would be totally lacklustre if not for the luminous Blanchett who has her brilliant career path mapped out in living colour.

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