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Top reviews from the United States
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This is the kind of movie they just don't make anymore. A sweeping, wartime romance with great acting, beautiful scenery, two gorgeous leads, and a happy ending (for once). Charlotte becomes a secret agent in France with a mind to finding her missing pilot boyfriend who was shot down. But then she meets Billy Crudup and his fabulous bone structure, and the rest is history. Michael Gambon was wonderful in this. And though the story is somewhat predictable, the acting is superb. Blanchett, Crudup, and Gambon are three of the greatest actors on the planet, and Gillian Armstrong directed, so you really can't go wrong. I guess you'd call it the ultimate "chick flick"--but to me, that's not an insult. It's a great rainy-day escape movie about love and duty and honor and lovely Billy's chiseled cheekbones. What's not to like?
Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2017
I love Cate Blanchett and almost everything she's in. Good or bad, her movies always stay with you. This is a great movie, one reason being it's based on actual people. The costumes/settings are gorgeous even though it's war. The back-stories (the children, and the father/son relationship of one of the main characters) are compelling. The tension when there's danger is so well-done. Cate and Billy Crudup are excellent. They are always just one step ahead of the very dangerous game and sometimes don't even know if the can trust each other. I recommend this for anyone who wants to see true courage.
A very fine film. I enjoy WW2 films that are historical and have some romance....this film is both. Good acting, the story is believable and the price is right. Although, this film is almost 20 years old... isn't it time it should be n/c.?
An early Kate Blanchett movie, and it is a good one. She dazzles as a spy in France sent by the English. She had hopes to find her boyfriend a flier who was downed by the Germans. Very good plot. I don't ant to give it away. Good supporting cast. One of the best WWII films I have seen.
I liked it, especially Michael Gambon. The film is based on a novel, everything fictitious as stated at the end. It only gives us a glimpse about the real existence of female spies and just sets the stage for another war-love story, albeit with some lovely authentic French countryside background.
Reviewed in the United States on December 18, 2002
Do not buy this movie if you love battle scenes and action, action, and more action in your war movies. If you have a thing for gore and carnage, you will be very disappointed. The main focus of this movie is not the war in itself, but the effects of the war on people's lives, which is the only reason I have a thing for war stories. It is amazing to see ordinary people transformed into courageous heroes just for survival. This story is mainly a romance, in my opinion. Charlotte is willing to risk her life to travel to France in search of her lover, a pilot who went down over France and who is now trapped in its borders. But she is distracted from her mission by the plight of two little Jewish boys whose parents have been arrested. She and a handsome ally take the boys into hiding and care for them. But there are spies and informers everywhere who are more than willing to betray their former friends and neighbors. Charlotte finds her loyalties torn between two countries, two identities, and two men. It was a lovely movie with great acting, a wonderful plot, breathtaking scenery, and best of all, it ends like it should. I would give it more than five stars, if I could.
Somehow this movie got overlooked but the it's a grilling Deana set in WWII and set design/cinematography is as good as the actor performance by big names. I catch another layer each time I watch the movie.
Utter garbage. Totally pointless. More about an attempted ‘Schindler’ like saving of two young Jewish boys than ANYTHING to do with being concerned with the bravest of the brave SOE girls.
Indeed my headline is a play on words and refers to two such.......as thought of by the Gestapo. Eileen Nearne (‘a silly little girl wasting the Gestapo’s time’) survived - along with her sister Jacqueline who was also an agent and who appears in the ‘extras (‘The Real Charlotte Grays’) in a clip from a film made just after the war about SOE recruiting.
Virginia Hall also survived. It was she that the phrase ‘......a woman of no importance’ was directed at. Virginia had a wooden prosthetic lower left leg - a result of a snipe shooting accident sustained in 1933, in Izmir, Turkey. She truly was a remarkable woman. Then there was ‘Christine Granville’ (Maria Krystyna Skarbeka). Hers’ is an astonishing life story, which I understand will possibly be dramatised into film.
In this present filmed novel, Michael Gambon is the one bright star - but wasted in this rubbish.
The only saving grace for this dvd is the Channel Four documentary - telling a very small part of the stories of a handful of the real heroines - that is contained in the extras.
There are huge faults in the film - historically and factually in what there is that is supposed to relate to SOE directly.
Agents who parachuted into occupied territories did so from either Halifax, Stirling, Hudson or Mitchell aircraft- NEVER from a Dakota as the English called the ‘goony birds’ DC3 (Skytrains). The American USAAF (8th Air Force) flying out of Harrington in Northamptonshire used B-24 Liberators to drop their OSS agents and ‘Jedburgh’ teams.
What was the Australian director thinking for goodness sake? What could have been a real tribute to SOE was turned into a shambles of a ridiculous ‘love story’ presumably to please the producers.
Whilst there were such liaisons in reality - and indeed later marriages - they were coincidental to the real business of ‘setting Europe ablaze’.
Cate Blanchett spends the whole time looking totally out of time - and place. Real agents tried to blend in with their surroundings, it was dangerous enough without drawing attention to oneself.
Of course there were some stunningly beautiful women agents - Francine Agazarian, Sonia Butt, Violette Szabo and Odette Sansom spring to mind among others, but they did not draw attention to themselves. ‘Dominque’ stands out like a (stunningly attractive) sore thumb, as Anton Lesser’s lecherous character attested.
I haven’t read the book, I have though read that it is more rounded and complete than this tripe. I should hope so. What is certain is that Jeremy Brock’s screenplay is totally unrealistic and borders on the asinine. Listening to Gillian Armstrong's commentary I was not one bit surprised to hear her making a robust defence of the wholly unsurprising criticism and opprobrium the film had attracted and which she listed.
I was further disappointed to learn that, as I suspected and feared, the ending had been changed from the book. If I had been the author I would have insisted on the novel ending which makes utter sense given her first awakening love for Peter, and not primal lust for Julienne.
Anton Lesser has the other realistic part as a lecherous Vichy collaborator - whose character gets what he deserves- but from a Yank (Billy Crudup) with no attempt even at a French accent, but then that goes for all the cast. I had to laugh at Gillian Armstrong’s assertion that there was no English actor worthy of the part of Julienne. Did the Casting Director Kathleen Mackie agree with that I wonder?
I believe Armstrong would have been better advised to make a biographical film of the real life story of her countrywoman Nancy Wake - though she was born in Wellington, New Zealand to New Zealand parents who moved to Sydney, Australia when Nancy was just two.
Nancy was yet another agent captured (twice) and released by the Gestapo as ‘unimportant’. The ‘White Mouse’ had been in their hands - but they didn’t realise it.
Armstrong could also have made a portrayal of Pearl Witherington who is considered to be the ‘real’ Charlotte Gray’. Now there IS a love story. Listen to her on the mini documentary. This was one amazingly courageous and skilled lady - blessed with a photographic memory and in time came to command up to 3,500 Maquis that she organised into four separate groups with responsibility for defined areas. She was a natural leader, and she gained the total respect of all her men who came to call her Lieutenant Pauline - or their mother.
There were no Jedburgh teams operating when the Nazis marched into Petain and Laval’s Vichy France in November 1942. [These were multi national three man teams dropped in to occupied territories prior to D-Day, and again prior to the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon [renamed in August 1944 from Operation Anvil which was the original code name from 1942]) for what became known as the ‘Champagne Campaign’.
In places I could have been watching ‘Wish me Luck’ - another piece of junk with Kate Buffery who also manages to betray her man rather like Charlotte who simpers ‘I can’t go back!’ Pathetic.
If you have an interest in SOE and its’ proud history then this dvd set is only of use for the documentary which has small but telling contributions from the SOE Official Historian MRD Foot. Otherwise save your brass I implore you.