Cate Blanchett in ‘Charlotte Gray’

We are in the final stretch of the podcast series. This week it’s another of Cate Blanchett’s many titular roles and Charlotte Gray (2001). In this episode Murtada discusses Gillian Armstrong’s World War II film, the many loving close ups she affords Balnchett and whether the film works as both a sweeping epic romance and a narrative about life in occupied France during the war.

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What is the film about?

From IMDB: A young Scottish woman joins the French Resistance during World War II to rescue her Royal Air Force boyfriend who is lost in France.

What year did it come out?

2001.

Box Office: US= $741,000 Outside US = $4.5MM

Critical Response: Metacritic : 48    RT: 33 

Topics Discussed:

  • The top notch crew behind this film. From the director Gillian Armstrong (Oscar and Lucinda) to the cinematographer Dion Bebe (Memoirs of a Geisha) and custom designer Janty Yates (House of Gucci).
  • The many loving and gorgeous closeup Cate Blanchett is afforded in this film.
  • Does the film work as a sweeping epic romance as well as a narrative about life in occupied France during World War II? Two scenes are dissected .
  • Charlotte Gray announces early in the film, “I want to be brave.” Does the film deliver on that declaration?
Billy Crudup and Cate Blanchett in Charlotte Gray

Film within context of Cate’s career:

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette

We kickoff the 3rd season of the podcast with the last film we saw in theaters for Cate Blanchett. Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. For this conversation Murtada Elfadl welcomes the hosts of the The B Side podcast, Dan Mecca and Connor O’ Donnell.

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Follow along the film is streaming on Hulu.

What is the film about?

From IMDB: A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.

Based on the novel by Maria Semple, a former TV writer who worked on such shows as Suddenly Susan, Mad About You, and Arrested Development.  

Who does Cate play?

Bernadette Fox – one of many titular characters Cate has played.Charlotte Gray, Veronica Guerin, Blue Jasmine, Carol

What year did it come out?

2019 – delayed more than a year.

Box Office: Domestic = $9.1MM Int’l = $1.8MM

Critical Response: Metacritic : 51  RT: 49

Topics discussed:

  • Bernadette is a genius who suffered a major career setback. Can she recover? That’s the movie’s premise. 
  • The film is effective in building the marriage story and the mother daughter relationship but the social satire from maria Semple’s book is lost. 
  • A highlight scene singing Time After Time, Cate undercuts by tearing up “I retain the right to being moved by those little things no one notices”
  • Was Richard Linklater miscast? The book is a social satire and that gets lost in this adaptation. 
  • The woes of this adaptation  as detailed in a Vulture article. There was a script written by Michael H Weber and  Scott Neustadler who wrote 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now but jettisoned by Linklater who brought in his own collaborators.
  • Blanchett as a physical comedian when “talking” with Bernadette’s virtual assistant Manjula.

Murtada’s review of the film published upon release in August 2019:

Blanchett remains best when playing unravelling women, however this is not a companion performance to her signature Oscar winning role in Blue Jasmine (2013) but rather I found myself thinking of another of her creations. The bored housewife who chooses to be kidnapped by bank robbers rather than continue filling her days with housework, in Bandits (2001). Bernadette is just as trapped as Kate Wheeler was and Blanchett manages to imbue her with the right chaotic temperenant to convey a woman confined by psychological trappings she can’t begin to face, let alone conquer. She’s always been a master of gestural acting and here she plays up her facial expressions and gives her body movement a fussy restless energy to show us how Bernadette is longing for more.”

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