PG – 98mins – 2017
THE MAN WHO’LL LEAD US THROUGH
“Why don’t you just have me stuffed?”
Never far from bowker hat, circular specs and a large cigar, Brian Cox gets the look and mannerisms of the man who lead our country through some of its darkest days down pat. Miranda Richardson is suitably unflappable with sympathetic-yet-steely support as his exasperated wife, Clementine. But Churchill isn’t solely a celebratory look back at Britain’s greatest Prime Minister. Set in the days leading up to the Allied Force’s D-Day landings in Normandy, historian Alex von Tunzelmann’s script empathises the frailties both physical and mental crippling the man behind the legend.
Nearing 60 and opposing the battle plans of his political opponents (including John Slattery’s General Eisenhower and Julian Wadham’s Field Marshall Montgomery), Winston Churchill is depicted as a great man on the edge of a meltdown. Exhausted, snappy and confused, he fears repeating the mistakes of his past and tarnishing his legacy, while his peers feel his tactics are antiquated. With “Operation Overlord” fast-approaching and decisions having to be made, can the under-fire PM make the right decision and rally his troops and the civilians of the British public, or will he crack under the burden?
Jonathan Teplitsky’s Churchill is a war film low on actual war action. This is an intimate, talky drama where battles are planned in stuffy rooms around large maps and even larger tables. We see generals and captains discuss and disagree, with conversations often raising into anguished arguments or retracted into reflective soliloquys.
With a melancholic score courtesy of composer Lorne Balfe and a slow pace, the sombre mood really amplifies the pity and pressure piled upon a man of Churchill’s standing. The return of his fighting spirit (via a determined and unifying public address) is a long time coming, and in my opinion left far too late to change the overall flavour of this piece.
CR@B’s Claw Score: