Charlotte Gray (2001)
Screenplay by: Jeremy Brock (based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks)
Directed by: Gillian Armstrong
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon, Rupert Penry-Jones, James Fleet, Helen McCrory, and Anton Lesser
Synopsis: During World War II, a Scottish woman (Blanchett) is recruited by the Secret Service to act as a courier for the French Resistance. During her first mission, as she searches for information about her pilot boyfriend (Penry-Jones) whose plane has been shot down behind enemy lines, she befriends a member of a Communist resistance group (Crudup) and his elderly father (Gambon), and helps care for two Jewish boys whose parents have been arrested and taken to a work camp in Poland.
Like I said, I LOVE movies like this. If it's set during wartime (particularly the 1940s), then I am usually all over it, which is why I'm surprised I had never seen this movie before yesterday. The film had a few problems, but overall I enjoyed it and would definitely watch it again.
Cate was, as always, wonderful. Because she was supposed to be a Scot undercover as a Frenchwoman, she did this weird mixed accent throughout most of the movie. At first I found it kind of odd, but by the end of the movie I was used to it. She also had her hair dyed dark brown for the parts of the film where she goes undercover. I've always thought she looks nice as a brunette.
I don't normally like Billy Crudup -- I think this opinion mostly stems from stuff I know about his personal life (You leave Mary-Louise Parker for Claire Danes while MLP's 7 months pregnant with your kid? Yeah, that makes you a stand-up guy.) -- but he was good in his role as Communist Frenchman Julien. Michael Gambon was also good as Julien's semi-estranged father. Since when is Gambon in every movie ever made?! I feel like everywhere I turn, he's in something new...obviously, he's in the Harry Potter movies, but he was also in The Book of Eli early last year, AND he popped up as King George V in The King's Speech. He's all over the place!
Here's a fun fact: Sebastian Faulks, author of the novel on which the film is based, won the Literary Review's Bad Sex Fiction Award in 1998 for a sex scene that's in the book. HA! I kind of wanted to read Charlotte Gray until I found out that bit of information. But I guess one poorly written scene doesn't ruin the entire novel, right? I may read it anyway.