Charlotte Gray

 
(i)

 

Mature material in this old-fashioned WWII movie.
  • Review Date: May 3, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence

Battle violence, tense and scary scenes, characters killed.

Sex

Sexual situation, no nudity; enemy pressures heroine for sexual favors.

Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has brutal wartime violence and wrenching emotional scenes, including children in peril and the deaths of important characters. There is some strong language and a non-graphic sexual situation. Characters smoke and drink. The issue of Nazi anti- Semitism is frankly portrayed. The female main character is brave, smart, and heroic.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Cate Blanchett plays Charlotte Gray, a Scottish woman working in London who is recruited to assist the French resistance. The pilot she loves has been shot down over France, and she has some hope that if she gets there, she will be able to find him. Charlotte is brave, smart, highly principled, and well trained. But nothing can prepare her for the reality of being behind enemy lines, the relentlessness of it and the agony of the moral compromises and all-around physical and emotional grubbiness. Charlotte, now under cover as Dominique, a Parisian whose husband is a prisoner of war, hands over the package she has been sent to deliver, only to see her contact captured with its contents. She becomes the housekeeper to a testy old man (the magnificent Michael Gambon of Gosford Park) who lives in a crumbling mansion. She cares for two young Jewish boys who are hiding out there because their parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. And she helps to blow up a German train, delivers messages from Britain (once with tragic consequences), and tries to find out what has happened to her pilot.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

CHARLOTTE GRAY is an old-fashioned WWII movie, with gallant heroes and vile bad guys, romantic longing and fabulous 1940s clothes, heartbreaking betrayal and even more heartbreaking loyalty, odious collaborators and valiant resistance fighters, a purse containing both lipstick and a cyanide pill, and characters who are idealists and cynics, sometimes both at once.

It is the kind of movie they mean when they ask why no one makes those kinds of movies any more. One of the most touching moments in the movie is a small act of generosity that Charlotte risks her life to perform. When it seems that nothing can be done to solve a problem, we can sometimes make great contributions with small kindnesses. Charlotte asks, "Can you forgive yourself if you've been part of something terrible but didn't know?" and is answered, "Otherwise what use are you to anyone?" It is worth talking about how we learn when to forgive ourselves.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how we can never know what we will do until we are fully tested, which is why stories and movies about war are as much about our internal challenges as about our historical ones. An RAF pilot tells Charlotte, "war makes us into people we didn't know we were." How is that good, how is it bad, and how is it both? Why did Charlotte make the choice she did? Why did Julien make the choice he did? Why did the schoolmaster make the choice he did? Does war present different choices to us than peacetime, or just the same ones more starkly?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 28, 2001
DVD release date:July 9, 2002
Cast:Abigail Cruttenden, Cate Blanchett, James Fleet
Director:Gillian Armstrong
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Drama
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some war related violence, sensuality and brief strong language

This review of Charlotte Gray was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bymoviemadness July 17, 2011
 

Ok World War Two Film for Tweens and Up

Charlotte Gray is a great look at a smart, stylish, and very, very brave heroine in some of the world's darkest days. After hearing that her fiance's plane has been shot down over rural France, Gray parachutes into the country as a spy, desperate to find him. Her host is a bright young Communist sheltering two young Jewish boys, making her situation triply precarious. Unable to find news of her lost love, she settles into life as a spy and resistance fighter and contributes skill, resourcefulness, and bravery to the cause. Characters exhibit lots of role model qualities and conduct themselves in an upright manner. The film is a bit scary; beloved characters die, everyone is in constant danger, and there are some upsetting violent moments. There is a bit of tasteful sexual activity. Overall, there is nothing too objectionable in the film other than the (expected) tense character.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 3, 5, and 7 year old Written by4BoysMomma February 12, 2011
 

not for kids!

This movie is not for kids! I really loved the story and the characters but I didn't even finish it. I thought the "f" word was only supposed to be allowed once in a PG-13 movie. I heard it several times and finally decided it wasn't worth it. I am surprised CommonSense only mentions one sexual scene. There is a scene near the beginning where the characters are naked in bed together kissing. Um...in my mind that is a sexual scene! I didn't watch real closely to be honest but I don't remember seeing more than a bare back and some leg. Definitely a SEXUAL scene though!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass