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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Tragic, powerful chronicle of young Holocaust-era artist.

Movie NR 2022 92 minutes
Charlotte Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Little known outside art history circles, Charlotte Salomon's remarkable story is told here in a thoughtful and memorable way that pays tribute to her as a burgeoning artist whose life was cut short. The animated medium works well to highlight Charlotte's gouache paintings, which are heavily featured in the film. The animation isn't slick, polished, and ultra-realistic like in a Pixar movie; it's purposely expressionistic to capture the artist's style. And the voice actors all do a fine job with their emotional cues. It's lovely to hear the late and wonderful McCrory again as Charlotte's stepmother, and Strong captures the smoldering gravitas of Charlotte's two-decades-older first love. Okonedo is playful and confident as selfless socialite Moore, while Knightley is mostly subdued as Charlotte, quietly observing everything around her. Perhaps that's in keeping with what's known about the artist, but it's curiously at odds with the spirit of her art and her personal narrative.

Ideally, this animated drama would be followed by live-action films/documentaries that explore more of the dark but unexplored aspects of Charlotte's tale. Charlotte leaves some issues ambiguous surrounding her grandfather's abusive nature and death, why Ottilie Moore left without Charlotte and Alexander, and how Charlotte's art finally made its way back to her parents, to name just a few dangling pieces. A few scenes make it seem like Charlotte didn't fully understand the urgency of the war, even though she had witnessed the Nazis' brutality early on. Anyone truly interested in Salomon as an artist will want to consider this an appetizer to one of several thorough biographies of her and her work. But despite its flaws, the story is compelling, and Salomon's art is vibrant and haunting, reminiscent of Modigliani, Chagall, and Munch. Teens and adults will undoubtedly want to explore Life? Or Theatre? more thoroughly online at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.

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