CHURCHILL is a portrait of hope in the crosshairs of uncertainty
There’s a Hollywood war film full of blistering extravagance anxious to leap from the scenes of Jonathan Teplitzky’s Churchill, but for all its tension and inspired acting, the film, based on the final days leading up to the Allied Invasion of Normandy, is refreshingly restrained. That goes double for Brian Cox’s portrayal of the famed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; an astonishing incarnation of spirit, hope and sacrifice in the crosshairs of absolute uncertainty.
Churchill is written by Alex von Tunzelmann, a British historian whose material is pleasantly coherent despite the pedagogical tone. Tunzelmann’s interpretation of Operation Overlord puts Churchill at odds with General Eisenhower (John Slattery) over the former’s fear of an insurmountable foe, and the potential huge loss of Allied life. Much of that anxiety is derived from Churchill’s failed command at the Battle of Gallipoli during WWI, however, his position threatens to undermine the entire operation just days before its execution.
Cox’s breathtaking embodiment really shines in the following scenes of Churchill’s blustery attitude toward subordinates and especially his wife, Clementine (Miranda Richardson). Unable to grasp the realities of his age or the blatant disregard for his experience, Churchill battles depression, alcohol, and the people who surround him. Those battles threaten to undermine his marriage and his position. Eventually Churchill finds his place in the War, behind a radio microphone delivering speeches of hope. Close your eyes and marvel at Cox’s eloquent delivery. Those famous speeches rallied the Allies and inspired the people of England in a time of constant fear. It’s no wonder Churchill is regarded as the greatest Briton who ever lived. Churchill may very well be our greatest interpretation of the statesman.