Again, it’s an end-of-month archival expansion here at Shared Darkness, ergo this review of 2001’s Charlotte Gray, originally published upon its theatrical release. To wit:
Growing up in my cul-de-sac neighborhood, bordered by a
thick woodland with all sorts of inviting nooks and crannies, “playing war” was
a favorite weekend pastime. Us little boys would grab all manner of sticks and
brightly colored plastic weapons — later BB guns for those for whom the habit
died dangerously hard — and plunge into the woods for hours, engaging in
espionage and theatrics the likes of which make sense only in male adolescence.
There was one girl, however — the requisite tomboy sister of
the most gung-ho of the lot. She preyed on the expectations of the foolish, of
course, and almost always proved indispensable in capturing the flag or
locating the enemy fort or whatever the day’s mission was.
Watching director Gillian Armstrong’s Charlotte Gray, based on Sebastian Faulks’ best-selling novel and
adapted for the screen by Jeremy Brock, I couldn’t help but find my thoughts
returning to that girl, wondering if she was still taking gloriously unfair
advantage of the less fair sex. Rooted in fact, Charlotte Gray tells the story of an ordinary woman who finds
herself caught up in an extraordinary reality, a reality mostly explored — both
in fact, but even more so in fiction — by men.
narrative as a whole, however, lacks punch and vim. With a budget of under $25
million, the film has insufficient means to truly convey on an epic scale the
actions. By necessity, then, it focuses on the personal rather than the
political. Yet Julien, though whole-heartedly sold by Crudup, lacks the
definition and shading of
we never grasp the full manner of his convictions, and the plot element that
keeps he and
(two abandoned children) is straight out of the stock dramatic playbook. Ergo, Charlotte Gray doesn’t totally get over
on the boys. But, oh, the crafty girl from my childhood? She now works in law
enforcement, no doubt targeting and taking advantage of those with misguided
expectations. Too bad she can’t give Charlotte and Julien a few pointers.
(Warner Bros., PG-13, 121 mins.)