Dir: Jonathan Teplitzky | Writer: Alex von Tunzelman | Cast: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, Richard Durden, Julain Wadham, John Slattery, James Purefoy, Danny Webb, Ella Purnell | Biopic Drama | UK | 98min
CHURCHILL is a commanding film of majestic images and thoughtful performances that seeks to imagine the man behind the legendary colossus and succeeds. This is a magnificent tribute to one of the greatest Britons of all time, Sir Winston Churchill.
Jonathan Teplitzky directs Alex von Tunzelmann’s sleek script that chronicles the tense twenty four hours before D-Day. Although the outcome is well known the tension is palpable in a moving biopic that honours the protagonists involved in an epic interlude of wartime strategy and political manoeuvring that concluded the Second World War.
Brian Cox plays Churchill as a consummate politician; a humanistic man of the people; a respectful husband and ultimately a towering hero in a performance that occasionally feels like a caricature of the cigar-chomping, whisky drinking bulldog of a man who, despite bouts of arrogance, is not too vain to stand corrected. The only gripe here is his way of referring to ‘the Narsies’. We were at war with the Germans and that’s a fact, so let’s not get all politically correct about it in retrospect. As his wife Clementine Miranda Richardson is gracefully immaculate: an imperious English Rose as sharp as cut-crystal, and as inscrutable as sterling silver, she is his anchor and his rudder at times of crisis, while remaining cool as a quintessential cucumber. John Slattery (Man Men) plays an impressively masterful Eisenhower and Julian Wadham exudes class and integrity as Field Marshall Montgomery although James Purefoy is a little too fey as King George VI.
The story opens in June 1944 as the Allied Forces stand on the brink: a massive army is secretly assembled on the South Coast ready to cross the Channel and re-claim France under German occupation. Churchill tries to resist the D-Day plan, mindful of the errors of the Great War, the slaughter of Passchendaele, the Somme and Gallipoli, and – although he would go on to live another 20 years – is exhausted and overweight. Luckily Clemmie intervenes and the rest, as they say, is history. The only slight criticism of the film lies in the inclusion of a slight subplot which not only feels redundant -there is enough here to keep us absorbed – but also feels rather like melodramatic contrivance. Epic in scale and convincing in narrative CHURCHILL is a possibly the most memorable Briitsh film of the year. MT
ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 16 JUNE 2017