Given the legend that surrounds him, you might be surprised to know that Winston Churchill was by no means the government's first choice of Prime Minister during World War II. Still, he had many qualities that would make him perfect to lead the country at its most desperate hour of need; he lacked vanity, he was charismatic in many ways, and had a determination and forcefulness that few could hope to match. He was simply the country's last hope. But within days of being in office, he was faced with the biggest challenge of his career: the battle of Dunkirk.
Churchill knew what he was getting into from the start, with the War having already been waging for at least eight months. But with so many British and Allied soldiers stranded on the French beaches in 1940, surrounded by enemy planes at every turn, the probability of their evacuation seemed miniscule, the probability of German invasion extremely likely. While the people around him urged him to begin negotiating peace talks with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, Churchill knew that the only way they were going to survive was if they stood and fought to the end. Surrender was not an option.
With the might of his colleagues and the brave military behind him, not to mention his loving and devoted wife Clementine Hozier, Churchill led his country to one of its greatest victories.
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The actress is set to star as the Queen in the West End play.
Kristin Scott Thomas has finally received her long-awaited and very well-deserved Damehood from Queen Elizabeth II at at Buckingham Palace, ahead of her role as the monarch herself in West End stage drama 'The Audience' in which she will star in April.
Kristin Scott Thomas finally becomes a dame
The Academy Award nominated actress became Dame Kristin Scott Thomas for her services to drama this week, and revealed to the Queen herself upon her honour that she is set to play her in upcoming stage show 'The Audience'. 'She asked me what I was doing next, so I had to tell her and she said it would be quite a challenge', the 54-year-old told BBC reporters.
'Suite Française' has been miraculously adapted from one of the first pieces of World War Two fiction ever written, by one of the most tragic authors in history.
The new period romance starring Michelle Williams and Matthias Shoenaerts is based on a novel that survived World War II against the odds. Irene Nemirovsky was a well-known novelist in pre-war France, and as the Nazis occupied her country she began writing a sequence of five novels about life during wartime. But in July 1942, she was arrested as a Jew and deported to Auschwitz, where she was killed.
Matthias Schoenaerts as Bruno von Falk in 'Suite Française'
At the time of her deportation, she had only completed the first two books in the series, handwritten in notebooks that were collected by her daughters. Thinking they were journals, the women were afraid to read about their mother's wartime experiences, and left them untouched. More than 50 years later, elder daughter Denise looked through them, discovering the two novels written in microscopic handwriting over 140 pages. The two books were titled 'Tempete en Juin' ('Storm in June') and 'Dolce' ('Sweet'), and were published together as 'Suite Française' in 2004 along with notes from Nemirovsky including the outline of the next book 'Captivite' ('Captivity') and the titles of the final two books in the series: 'Batailles' ('Battles') and 'La Paix' ('Peace').
Continue reading: 'Suite Française' Adapts A Miracle Book
Even though it's made in a style that feels familiar, this World War II romantic drama takes a much more complex approach to the period, most notably in the way that it refuses to let anyone become a hero or villain. This is because author Irene Nemirovsky wrote the source novel at the time, not in retrospect, which gives it an unusual kick. And the film also benefits from an extraordinarily textured performance by Michelle Williams.
She plays Lucille, who in 1940 is living in the French country town of Bussy with her mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas). Since her husband is missing in action at the front, Lucille is feeling trapped in her life with the madame, who cruelly increases her poor-farmer tenants' rent even during these hard times. Then the Germans arrive to occupy the town, and officer Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts) is billeted in their house. Initially a horrific presence, Bruno turns out to be a soulful young man who misses his family. As he composes music on Lucille's piano, she reaches out to him in friendship, surprised to find a spark of attraction. But things get more complicated when Lucille and the madame begin to help a neighbour (Sam Riley) who crosses the Germans and needs to be hidden from view.
Director Saul Dibb (The Duchess) shoots this in a fairly straightforward costume-drama style, with sun-dappled cinematography and lavish settings. But the film rises above the genre in the characters, who are never allowed to become the usual stereotypes. Both Lucille and Bruno are intelligent young people aware that they're in the wrong place at the wrong time, so it's hardly surprising that they are drawn to each other, and Williams and Schoenaerts spark vivid chemistry that never boils over into forbidden-love melodrama. Each of them is a bundle of contradictions, remaining sympathetic even when they make bad decisions. And Scott Thomas adds further texture as the harsh madame who reveals her own unexpected shadings.
Continue reading: Suite Francaise Review
During the Second World War, France was quickly and violently taken over by the German army. Now, under enemy occupation, the residents find themselves having to house and shelter their victorious enemies. Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams) is one of these people, having to share her house with Commander Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts). Despite being on two different sides of the conflict, the two find a strange attraction to one-another, and a romance begins to blossom. But Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lucille's mother-in-law, distrusts the German officer, leading to a series of events that will test the strength of love and trust, in a time of war.
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Every threat of sentimentality and melodrama is averted by a seriously strong cast working from a snappy script. It may be warm and gentle, but the honest humour and twisty plot make sure the audience is entertained rather than manipulated. And there are some startlingly edgy scenes along the way that allow the actors to create spiky, fully formed characters while clearly having a great time in each other's company.
Based on writer-director Israel Horovitz's stage play, most of the action takes place within a vast old flat in central Paris that has just been inherited by Jim (Kevin Kline), who flies in from New York so he can sell it. He's at the end of his rope and needs the cash, so is unnerved to discover that the apartment is a "viager", a quirk in French property law that allows the past owner to remain in the home for the rest of their life. So Jim can't sell the flat as long as 92-year-old Mathilde (Maggie Smith) is alive, and her daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas) immediately locks horns with Jim, who has already been in touch with a despised developer (Stephane Freiss). As the days pass, Jim is so determined to figure out how to make some money off of this property that he ignores the much bigger things going on around him.
Kline actually manages to make the deeply bullheaded Jim surprisingly likeable, adding a generous charm to the character's overpowering inner misery. So while he dismisses both women out of hand, the audience can see that there might be some substance there. Smith and Scott Thomas are of course terrific as the put-upon women trying to defend their lifelong home. And all three characters must face some unexpected truths about their own pasts in order to plot a course forward. This messy, revelatory plotting is so much fun that the hint of romance between Jim and Chloe feels almost irrelevant.
Continue reading: My Old Lady Review
Kristin Scott Thomas, one of the world's finest actresses, will play The Queen in London's West End.
Kristin Scott Thomas has been confirmed to play The Queen in a revival of Peter Morgan's classic stage play The Audience. The Oscar-nominated actress, 54 - one of the world's finest - will play the monarch at London's Apollo Theatre next year.
Kristin Scott Thomas will play 'The Queen' in London's West End
It's an all-star collaboration, with Stephen Daldry - the man behind Billy Elliot the Musical, The Hours, The Reader and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - directing the new production. Tickets will go on sale today priced from a very reasonable £22.50, with the play due to begin production on April 21, 2015.
Continue reading: Kristin Scott Thomas To Play The Queen In Revival Of 'The Audience'
Mathias (Kevin Kline) is penniless and pretty down on his luck in New York despite having come from a wealthy family. In what seems like a fortunate turn of events, he inherits a sensational apartment in Paris which could land him a lot of money on selling. However, when he travels over to check the place out and set the selling in motion, he meets an elderly tenant named Mathilde (Maggie Smith) who explains that the apartment is 'viager' - a French real estate system which means Mathias must pay a monthly sum to Mathilde until her death before he can gain possession of the property. The pair make a deal allowing Mathias to stay with her at the property, and it's then he meets her daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas). Chloe's not happy about Mathias' plans to gain ownership of her home but the pair soon bond over their own childhood troubles - things get even more complicated for Mathias when he discovers some deep truths about his father's relationships.
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Reuniting with filmmaker Philippe Claudel (I've Loved You So Long), Kristin Scott Thomas delivers yet another brittle, understated performance as a woman who isn't always likeable but is hugely sympathetic. But even though the film is beautifully made, it's also elusive, never quite making it clear what the point is.
Scott Thomas plays Lucie, the glamorous wife of the noted Paris surgeon Paul (Daniel Auteuil). They live in a strikingly modern home in a leafy suburb, where they indulge in lavish gardening projects and spoil the adorable baby daughter of their son Victor (Jerome Varanfrain) and his wife Caroline (Vicky Krieps). After flirting with waitress Lou (Leila Bekhti), Paul starts receiving daily deliveries of roses to his home, office and hospital, which unnerves him thoroughly. He also keeps spotting Lou around town, begging her to stop sending flowers. But is it her? Of course, Lucie can see that something fishy is going on, but she has her own issues as she's constantly pursued by Paul's business partner Gerard (Richard Berry). And Victor and Caroline's marriage is just as strained.
All of these plot-threads and more swirl around to make the film darkly involving. And through it all is a current of resentment, mainly because the characters refuse to confirm their suspicions by asking someone for the truth. Auteuil and Scott Thomas can play this kind of repressed bitterness in their sleep, saying volumes with the tiniest flicker of their eyes. This adds a remarkable depth to the film's layered plotting, partly because it's clear that even they don't understand why they're reacting the way they do.
Continue reading: Before The Winter Chill Review
A fascinating true story becomes a deeply repressed movie in the hands of writer Morgan (The Iron Lady) and actor-director Fiennes. It looks and feels murky and dull, and because it's trying to keep everything under the surface never quite reveals anything about the characters or situations. What's left is the intriguing story itself, some strong acting and a lush attention to period detail.
It starts in the 1850s, as Charles Dickens (Fiennes) revels in his celebrity status, adored by fans as he produces the play The Frozen Deep with his rogue buddy Wilkie Collins (Hollander). Then Charles develops a crush on 18-year-old actress Nellie (Jones), who is encouraged by her mother (Scott Thomas) to pursue the affair. But as they fall in love, there's a problem: divorce is unthinkable in Victorian society, so Charles separates from his angry wife (Scanlan) and keeps his relationship with Nellie hidden. And 30 years later, Nellie is still haunted by the experience, even though she now has a family with her loving husband George (Burke).
Fiennes makes the odd decision not to age Nellie at all: Jones looks the same in 1850 as she does in 1880, so the scenes set three decades later don't quite make sense. And there's also the problem that the affair between Charles and Nellie feels like it lasted about two years, when in reality it was 13. These things leave us perplexed about pretty much everything on-screen, unable to engage with the characters or their emotions. It doesn't help that the relationship is clearly doomed from the start, so Fiennes and Jones can never generate any real chemistry or emotion. In fact, they seem barely able to stand each other. Much better are the feisty supporting turns from Hollander, Scanlan and especially Scott Thomas.
Continue reading: The Invisible Woman Review
Date of birth
25th May, 1960
Given the legend that surrounds him, you might be surprised to know that Winston Churchill...
Even though it's made in a style that feels familiar, this World War II romantic...
During the Second World War, France was quickly and violently taken over by the German...
Every threat of sentimentality and melodrama is averted by a seriously strong cast working from...
Mathias (Kevin Kline) is penniless and pretty down on his luck in New York despite...
Reuniting with filmmaker Philippe Claudel (I've Loved You So Long), Kristin Scott Thomas delivers yet...
A fascinating true story becomes a deeply repressed movie in the hands of writer Morgan...
At the height of his career, Charles Dickens finds himself embroiled in one of the...
Damien Hauer is a professor of Chinese civilization whose life with his stage director girlfriend...
Charles Dickens may be famous for having written some of history's greatest stories, but his...