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Churchill – powerhouse of a performance from Cox

By on June 20, 2017
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A “masterclass” from the Scots actor Brian Cox as Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill, writes Ruth Allen. 

CHURCHILL (PG)

(Run time: 100 MINS; Director: Jonathan Teplitzky; Cast: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, James Purefoy, Julian Wadham, Richard Durden, Ella Purnell, Danny Webb, Steven Cree)

Synopsis: June 1944. Allied Forces stand on the brink: a million soldiers are secretly assembled on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi-occupied Europe. One man stands in their way: Winston Churchill. Fearful of repeating, on his disastrous command, the mass slaughter of 1915, when over 500,000 soldiers were killed on the beaches of Gallipoli. Churchill is a shadow of the hero who has resisted Hitler’s Blitzkrieg. Should the D-Day landings fail, he is terrified he’ll be remembered as the architect of carnage. Only the unflinching support of Churchill’s wife Clementine can halt the Prime Minister’s physical and mental collapse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR1OByWYiRw

Churchill is directed by Jonathan Teplitzky [The Railway Man (2013); Burning Man (2011); Gettin’ Square (2003)] and scripted by historian and author Alex von Tunzelmann.

It portrays Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the days before the celebrated D-Day landings in June 1944. As allied forces gather on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, they await Churchill’s decision on whether the invasion will 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.

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.

Distinguished Scottish actor Brian Cox [Troy (2004); Braveheart (1995); L.I.E (2001)] delivers a blistering performance as the cantankerous, uncompromising and arguably the most famous and revered Prime Minister in Britain’s history.

Here, haunted by memories of the bloody slaughter in 1915 on the Gallipoli beaches, he finds himself in direct conflict with General Eisenhower (John Slattery, Mad Men’s Roger Sterling), Field Marshall Montgomery (Julian Wadham) and the King (James Purefoy) as they block his desire to sail to Normandy with the troops.

As time runs out and the great man battles inertia and depression, two women step forward to help him – his shrewd, stoic but exasperated wife Clemmie (Miranda Richardson, giving an awards-worthy performance) and his young secretary Helen (Ella Purnell, also outstanding in a role that proves to be crucial in rallying Churchill.)

Beautiful cinematography from David Higgs and an atmospheric score by Lorne Balfe give strong backing to an expert ensemble cast. But the film is really a masterclass in acting from Brian Cox who seems to become the great man – warts and all – in this powerhouse of a performance.

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

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