Churchill (3 stars)


Intelligent, sometimes moving biopic from director Jonathan Teplitzky, starring Brian Cox

Here is something not many people know: Winston Churchill, iconic statesman of the 20th century, the bulldog Prime Minister who led the country through World War II, was vehemently opposed to D-Day. The largest invasion force in history landed on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944, launching the Allies' liberation of Europe and the eventual rout of Nazi Germany, over Churchill's agonising doubts and agitated objections.

This film from Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man), scripted by Alex von Tunzelmann (the historian behind The Guardian's 'Reel history' column), uses the days leading up to the invasion and Churchill's efforts to stop it to explore his character, personality and booze-fuelled struggles with depression. This perception of Churchill is facilitated by an exceptional cast, led by Brian Cox as the great man, with Miranda Richardson as his wife Clementine, Mad Men's John Slattery as Dwight Eisenhower, the Allies Supreme Commander, Julian Wadham as Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and James Purefoy as King George VI.

Haunted by the tragedy of Gallipoli 30 years earlier, Churchill has visions of the seashore red with blood as he rages, growls, drinks and chain-smokes his trademark cigars through a succession of angry monologues and dialogues. He rows with Ike and Monty, gets dressed down by his exasperated confidante Clemmie, is commiserated with by the stammering king who wistfully recognises that both he and the PM are irrelevant nuisances to the military men. While this is intelligent and sometimes moving (bravo Purefoy for his touching monarch), it isn't notably cinematic, stringing together a series of one-on-one confrontations with shots of Churchill being driven from one stately home or war room to another. Nice locations though.

General release from Fri 16 Jun.


  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • 1h 45min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Jonathan Teplitzky
  • Written by: Alex von Tunzelmann
  • Cast: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery
  • UK release: 16 June 2017

The story of how Churchill (Cox) was vehemently opposed to the Normandy landings of 1944. Intelligent, sometimes moving drama with an exceptional cast (especially Purefoy as a touching George VI) but not notably cinematic, stringing together a series of confrontations with shots of Churchill being driven from one place to…