Sebastian Faulks' romantic fiction has always seemed redolent of cinema, if only because it inhabits worlds we know primarily from old movies - here, London in the Blitz followed by Vichy France and the Resistance. And that's a bit of a problem for Armstrong's film. While it's reasonably absorbing to watch the impeccable Ms Gray join the war effort and fall in love, it hardly feels like uncharted territory. Even after her lover is shot down in France and she's inducted into the mysteries of the undercover operative, the film feels only dourly dutiful. It's more than faintly ridiculous that everyone in Vichy speaks English - so that Charlotte's prime qualification for the job becomes her fluency in Franglais. Nor does the presence of crabby provincial farmer Gambon dispel echoes of TV's Occupation sitcom 'Allo, 'Allo. Still, you come to accept conventions, and the plot thickens nicely in the second half as Charlotte is forced to rethink her own assumptions of moral cause. Crudup does a creditable job as the angry intellectual Resistance fighter, but it's Blanchett's movie, and she grasps her meatiest role since Elizabeth with both hands. Hers is an intelligent, severe and finally very moving performance at the centre of a standard middlebrow drama.
Cast and crew