Winston Churchill has often been called the greatest Briton who ever lived, yet to this day, he remains an enigma. His life was one of such amazing contrasts: a controversial man of great wit and intelligence who had monumental successes and failures in his life.
No matter how people view him now, there is no doubting his contribution to British history. From May 1940 to July 1945 he lead the United Kingdom through perhaps the most dangerous period in its history with a determination and courage that will never be forgotten.
In the movie Churchill, we see a very intimate portrayal of the man at during of the most crucial moments for the Allies in World War Two – the days leading up to the D-Day landings and July 1944.
Brian Cox does a great job of portraying Churchill as a driven irascible tyrant convinced of his destiny and the rightness of his cause. But he is also a man plagued with insecurity and ill health and tormented by memories of his botched invasion of Gallipoli in the First World War.
Desperate to avoid another bloodbath he does his best to sabotage the Allied commanders to put the landings off and instead open up a second front in the war.
It is an interesting premise and it is fascinating to watch this war hero grapple with his demons, but unfortunately, the story is simply untrue and that ultimately lets the entire film down.
Churchill was fully supportive of the D-Day landings and indeed had been planning for them in some form since the early days of the war. He was too clever and too aware of the critical need to defeat the Nazis in Europe to have meddled in such a dangerous way.
There are some powerful moments in this film – particularly one where King George VI tells Churchill he cannot go to France with the invasion forces. It is also particularly profound when Churchill recollects the horrors of the previous Great War.
Exploring Churchill’s weaknesses and his arrogance could have made for a superb film, and indeed Cox’s blending of that famous temper and supreme confidence with doubt and torment was cleverly done, but the blatant falsehood at the heart of the film made even Cox’s performance seem staged.
It is a great pity the filmmakers chose to base the movie on a lie as the chance to really shine some light on the enigmatic Churchill was wasted.
In cinemas 15th June 2017
Directed by: Jonathan Teplitzky
Starring: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Ella Purnell, James Purefoy