. . . the film won't get any nominations. Charlotte Gray is Cate Blanchett's first lead role since The Gift, and she is the main reason to see this Gillian Armstrong film, which is now playing in L.A. and New York. It's a period piece, sumptuously photographed, about a woman from Scotland who, because she is fluent in French, becomes a British spy in Nazi-occupied France. Charlotte (referred to by her cover name "Dominique" throughout most of the film) has many motives for volunteering for such dangerous work. She feels an attachment to France and wants to help free it, but she's also trying to find her lover, a British pilot missing in action. On her first mission, however, she finds herself drawn into circumstances she hadn't anticipated, and the story is about her choices in the face of events that are both deeply personal and, at the same time, far too big for any one person to affect except in the smallest ways. You could debate for a long time whether Charlotte's final resolution to her French adventure is a futile gesture or a triumph of human decency against all odds. Charlotte Gray will have a hard time finding an audience. Despite appearances, it isn't a war film, and it isn't an espionage film. It's about Charlotte's inner life, and the only reason the film works is because Blanchett is able to show it in minute detail in her bearing, her gestures and the tiniest inflections of her voice. As an actress, she's always been a chameleon who disappears into her characters; here, she's playing someone who has to do the same thing, at grave personal risk. As things turn out, Charlotte isn't a particularly good spy, but it's for the very reasons that impelled her to take the job -- she feels for the people around her and can't operate with the detachment needed to "play the game" (her British contact, a whiny civil servant through and through, has the right "professional" attitude, even when he's drunk). The film has interesting supporting performances from Billy Crudup (another chameleon actor) as Charlotte's French contact and the great stage actor Michael Gambon as his father. It's worth seeing, but don't expect a rousing war epic. M.