Churchill

There will always be, it's become clear, one more Winston Churchill story to tell: one more slant on a weekend, a summer, a year in the life of the 20th century's most formidable leader, a man whose history includes two world wars and speeches so glorious that future dramatizations were all but inevitable. But what happens when the story being told feels emotionally false and factually bogus? Churchill, a new drama starring the great Brian Cox, is 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.

It is early summer, 1944. The Allies' June 6 D-Day invasion of Normandy is days away, and Winston Churchill is determined to stop it in its tracks. Standing on an English beach in the opening scene, the great man literally sees the sea foam turning red. Churchill scoffs when presented the D-Day plans by Eisenhower (John Slattery). Conventional wisdom tells us these plans were years in the making, but the script suggests that Churchill is seeing them for the first time.

Movie critics are not historians, but it's hard not to doubt a film that depicts Churchill bad-mouthing the D-Day invasion three days out. And who knew that the prime minister's wife (Miranda Richardson) felt so neglected in her marriage that, even with the invasion clock ticking, she packs her bags to leave? Or that it took a speech by a secretary (Ella Purnell) with a soldier fiancé to shame the clinically depressed leader into getting off his duff and doing his job?

Credits

Director:

  • Jonathan Teplitzky

Cast:

  • Brian Cox
  • Miranda Richardson
  • John Slattery
  • James Purefoy
  • Ella Purnell
  • Julian Wadham

Writer:

  • Alex von Tunzelmann

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