Churchill Starring Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson – Film Review
Churchill directed by Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man, Marcella) and written by British historian and author Alex von Tunzelmann (Medici: Masters of Florence) in her feature debut, was released in UK cinemas on the 16th June, the film is a unique, challenging and intimate portrait of the man behind the public figure, widely regarded as the Greatest Briton of all time.
The film is produced by Nick Taussig and Paul Van Carter of Salon Pictures (Guv’nor, My Name is Lenny), along with Piers Tempest of Tempo Productions (The Journey, The Wife) and Claudia Bluemhuber of Silver Reel (Under the Skin, A Hologram for the King).
The film follows Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the days before the infamous D-Day landings in June 1944. As allied forces stand on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, they await Churchill’s decision on whether the invasion will actually move ahead. Fearful of repeating his mistakes from World War I on 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 and Field Marshal Montgomery. Only the unflinching support of Churchill’s brilliant, unflappable wife Clementine can halt the Prime Minister’s physical and mental collapse and help lead him to greatness.
Churchill is certainly a film that you may expect to see on the BBC as one of their extended dramas, it has some lovely shot pieces during the film with the cinematography being put to good use during those full widescreen shots that open to the audience.
Brian Cox plays a good Churchill, with his large cigars and love for whisky and although he may not look that much like him or indeed sound the same with the way that Churchill spoke, Cox does bring the part to life on the big screen, showing Churchill as a man that was trying to help win a war without losing so many young souls on D-Day.
Miranda Richardson who plays Churchill’s long devoted wife, Clementine, was a joy to watch as she seemed to hold Cox’s character together through this time of war and struggle. I wasn;t sure at first about John Slattery playing the part of Dwight ‘Ike’ Eisenhower, but my fears soon subsided when he came on to the screen as he played the part well, as did Julian Wadham who took on the role of Montgomery. Richard Durden was also very good to watch as Jan Smuts, who advised Churchill throughout the film.
I was quite surprised with James Purefoy as King George VI, but he seemed to carry the part off, even with his own “Kings Speech” as he had a heart to heart with Winston about being at the Normandy Landings.
The film shows the highs and lows of this gruelling time for Winston Churchill, with him seeming to be a man that is carrying the weight of the war on his shoulders and his alone.
During the film, Helen (Ella Purnell) is with Churchill as his secretary, from the start of the film she was taken aback by meeting him and as the film progresses she is shouted at for not using double spaces in a telegram and she sticks with, but she stands ground when Churchill is going through a moment of depression, Smuts and Clementine can’t get a response from him as he lies silently in his room, that is until Helen speaks up to the Prime Minister, to me this was another one of the many emotional scenes throughout the film.
Churchill is a film that will get mixed reviews, personally for me, I enjoyed it, the cinematography was very nicely done, the rather sombre soundtrack fits the mood of the film. During the screening I went to, there were only a handful of young people, but the majority were older, my mum being one of them, she along with the others of her age were laughing at certain points and even welling up during others. This is a film that may not be one of the best portrayals of Churchill, but it is one that shows the other side of war!