Churchill

Churchill

(2017)

True love inspires true greatness.

Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson and John Slattery star in this ticking-clock thriller following Winston Churchill in the 24 hours before D-Day.... More

As allied forces stand on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, they await Churchill’s (Cox) decision on whether the invasion will actually move ahead. Fearful of repeating his mistakes from the beaches of Gallipoli, exhausted by years of war, plagued by depression and obsessed with fulfilling historical greatness, Churchill is also faced with constant criticism from his political opponents; General Eisenhower (Slattery) and Field Marshal Montgomery (Julian Wadham).

Only the unflinching support of Churchill’s brilliant, unflappable wife Clementine (Richardson) can halt the Prime Minister’s physical and mental collapse and help lead him to greatness.Hide

Flicks Review

Brian Cox gives good Churchill. He has the acting chops, he has the body shape, and he really knows how pull that bulldog face. He has jowls and he knows how to use them. But creating the facsimile only takes you so far, the key to a good biopic is bringing new intel to the table, illuminating shades of historical grey hitherto hidden by the broad strokes. On that score this film makes the grade in spades, at least for those whose book shelves don’t groan with military histories.... More

It covers only a matter of days in June 1944, as D-Day looms. Churchill is revisited by guilty flashbacks of his most infamous invasion plan from the first war, a calamity known as Gallipoli. Perhaps even more shocking for him is the realisation that he is no longer being taken seriously, not by Field Marshall Montgomery nor by the new boss of the war, the American Dwight D. Eisenhower. Also, Winnie is seriously on the piss, chugging his cigar and sculling back whisky like there’s no tomorrow and sleeping till midday like a teenager.

Cox makes a great Churchill though he never reaches the heights that John Lithgow knocked off with his electric performance on the recent Netflix series The Crown. Likewise the film pales a bit in comparison to that and other recent period pieces. It’s somewhat workmanlike and sometimes cheesy, has a crappy score, and why anyone thought it a good idea to cast Mad Men’s Roger Sterling (John Slattery) as Eisenhower is beyond me. Still, director Jonathan Teplitzky sure knows how to draw the best from Cox and Miranda Richardson (Clementine Churchill), and it’s their performances that make the film.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY cinemusefilm superstar

While historians debate facts audiences judge movies on expressive qualities, human insight and entertainment value. The beautifully produced Churchill (2017) is being criticised for its interpretation of history, leaving the film’s considerable cinematic qualities overlooked. Historical bio-pics are necessarily selective and reductive, and many are less than complimentary when heroic icons like Winston Churchill are put under the cinematic microscope.

The opening scenes set the background... More for this version of the Churchill legend. Alone on a sweeping beach in June 1944, Churchill (Brian Cox) is deeply troubled by Allied Command plans to launch a massive military force onto the beaches of Normandy. It is a high-risk strategy to drive the Nazis out of France and turn the tide of the war. He watches the incoming waves, seeing them turn the colour of blood. The screen then turns to black and white as he walks across the beach that has suddenly turned into a battlefield strewn with the fallen of the First World War. Although ham-fisted, this imagery quickly sets the context of Churchill’s state of mind: the haunting fears and failures of the disastrous 1915 Gallipoli Campaign. The rest of the film examines the political machinations of Churchill, Eisenhower and Montgomery during the frenetic six days leading to the landing at Normandy. Throughout this critical period, the chain-smoking Churchill is shown as suffering from depression, alcoholism and the tensions of a long-strained marriage.

Like in many historical dramas, a young love story is incorporated to offset the imposing and cantankerous Churchill. But it is neither significant nor distracting. The entire impact of this film rests on Brian Cox’s interpretation of the man still most revered by Britain. A spent-looking 70-year old, he is portrayed as a man still fighting the last war and ill-suited for military strategy in 1944. Both the British and American high commanders show little respect or tolerance for Churchill’s meddling in the invasion plans, and even King George VI countermands his plan to be on board a naval ship close to the battle. His ever-patient wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) was more nurse than companion as she used all her influence in focusing Churchill on what he did best: inspire the nation with a Prime Ministerial speech that remains a classic in poetically pugnacious war rhetoric.

The small six-day window of history through which this film peers means that the story is compressed into an unsubtle and limited character study of Churchill and his relationship with Clementine. While the support cast are excellent, the performances by Cox and Richardson are outstanding and their synergy extraordinary. If there is a higher-order message in the film it may be that greatness and vulnerability can co-exist in equal measure: even the most inspiring leaders suffer the frailties of being human. Historians have every right to point and sneer, but this film should be judged as cinema, not history. And it is fine cinema indeed.Hide


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The Press Reviews

  • A superb look at iconic statesman Winston Churchill's torturous days leading up to the pivotal D-Day landings of June 6, 1944. Full Review

  • The movie's ambition is the good news. The bad news is that it is a hash, choosing to jumble the historical record and frame a Churchill bout with depression against the D-Day invasion of France by Allied forces. Full Review

  • So full of movie clichés and high melodrama that it's sometimes hard not to giggle - and one should never laugh at the prime minister. Full Review

  • A small, watchable, rather prosaic backroom docudrama... Full Review

  • Cox aside, this pedestrian drama is hobbled by too many monodimensional characters and too much overly explanatory dialogue that feels like a dry high school history lesson... Full Review

  • The script is eventually undone by its cliches, one or two of which are shamelessly sentimental, but Cox and Richardson make it all worthwhile. Full Review

  • You can certainly argue just how speculative this film version of Churchill is as history. But Cox's performance cannot be faulted. It's a master class in acting. Full Review