Churchill

"Good"

Churchill Review


This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over just a few pivotal days during the Second World War. It's skilfully written and directed, and anchored by a wonderfully layered performance by Brian Cox. But there's a nagging sense that there's nothing new to see here, mainly because this is such a well-documented and dramatised point in history.

The story takes place over the first few days of June 1944, as the Allied military leaders make final preparations for the D-Day invasion. Due to his lingering trauma over his experiences in WWI, Winston Churchill (Cox) has serious misgivings about the plan, and challenges both the American commander Eisenhower (John Slattery) and senior British officer Montgomery (Julian Wadham). He even makes an appeal to King George (James Purefoy) to intervene. The problem is that he is coming across as a cranky man stuck in the old world, unable to see how warfare has changed in the previous 30 years and reluctant to relinquish control to the next generation. His wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) is also becoming fed up with his ranting and raving, so she sets about trying to make him see reason.

Director Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man) tells this story in a style similar to The King's Speech, a more revelatory true-life drama that fictionalises backstage conversations. This is an artfully made film, beautifully shot and edited. And Alex von Tunzelmann's script digs deeply into the characters and themes. So it's a bit frustrating that it's impossible to watch the movie without knowing full well whose argument wins the day and how the events will play out. At least the actors make the most of their roles. Cox delivers an awards-worthy performance as a veteran fighter struggling to remain on the sidelines as the battle approaches, continually adding emotional weight to Churchill's towering tirades. Richardson is limited to a series of isolated scenes, but shines as she takes him on.

There are very strong scenes for each of the peripheral characters as the story progresses, including Slattery, Wadham and Purefoy. Ella Purnell has a tacked-on drama of her own as Churchill's long-suffering secretary, as does Richard Durden as the prime minister's ageing advisor Field Marshal Smuts. Still, the war remains stubbornly out of sight, which kind of leaves all of the arguments feeling academic. And there's no tension in wondering what's going to happen in the end. But even if the film offers little insight into the people or events, it's packed with powerfully involving moments.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Budget: $10M

Production compaines: Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology, Tempo Productions Limited, Salon Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Producer: Claudia Bluemhuber, Nick Taussig, Piers Tempest, Paul Van Carter

Starring: as Winston Churchill, as Clementine Churchill, as Dwight Eisenhower, as Helen, as King George VI, as Bernard Montgomery, as Jan Smuts, as Alan Brooke, as Mallory, George Anton as Admiral Ramsay, as Captain Stagg, Peter Ormond as Briggs, Angela Costello as Kay Summersby, Kevin Findlay as Fanshawe

Contactmusic


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