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CHARLOTTE GRAY

So what if today’s war on terror, it seems, exists only to promote the egos of media whores like Geraldo Rivera — the big ruckus of a few years back known as World War II served merely as a backdrop for tawdry love stories. So one might deduce from such recent films as Pearl Harbor, Enemy at the Gates, and now Charlotte Gray. An adaptation of a Sebastian Faulks novel by the once formidable Gillian Armstrong, this one is not so much offensive as pointless.

The young Scotswoman of the title, played by Cate Blanchett in the least successful of her half-dozen roles of the past year, arrives naive and idealistic in blitzed-out London and in short order falls in love with an RAF pilot who is subsequently downed in a mission over France. She volunteers as a British undercover agent with the idea of tracking down her lost lover. Things get complicated when Charlotte gets involved with a Communist resistance cell in a provincial town and grows attached to a hardnosed partisan (Billy Crudup) and to his curmudgeonly father (Michael Gambon — the accents in this film are, to say the least, inconsistent) as well as to the requisite orphaned pair of Jewish children. Great themes and emotions, to be sure, but reduced to lush photography and costumes and the grayest of clichés in this half-hearted exercise.

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: January 10 - 17, 2002
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