Ten minutes in to Glorious 39 and you are left in no doubt that this is a Stephen Poliakoff production. There’s the stately country pile, the lavish aristo picnic, the soaring score, a sensational cast of British talent (Christopher Lee, Julie Christie, David Tennant, Bill Nighy) and a mystery lurking within a family at war. The conflict in question is WW2 and with Churchill threatening the ruling elite, shady forces are at work to halt the anti-appeasement movement stone dead in its tracks. An apolitical actress Anne (Romola Garai) steps into the fray and puts her nose in where murderous agencies don’t want it, but will she uncover the truth in time to save family and nation?
With tension ripping through the screenplay, there’s more to this Poliakoff than meets the eye, with the archetypal otherworldly dialogue being ditched in favour of more precise exchanges while the sweeping soundtrack from Adrian Johnston underpins the austere drama to perfection. He may have been away from the world of cinema for a decade, but Poliakoff still knows what it means to pierce the conscience and nudge the intelligence on screens both big and small.
Selected release from Fri 20 Nov. See feature.