If you’re here to gain a better understanding of the events that lead to one of world’s greatest invasions, well, turn back – because what you’ll get is a character-study of Churchill more than a lesson on history.
Churchill takes place during the days leading up to D-Day, covering Churchill’s fundamental disagreement with the invasion plans.
Brian Cox mounts a frantic and fearful portrayal of Churchill amidst the pivot point of World War II. It’s clear Brian invested a lot of detail into this role to capture this seemingly strong-willed and vivacious character known in history. Brian Cox certainly succeeds in getting Churchill’s mannerisms and body language down to a science, but appearances aren’t enough, as it becomes extremely difficult to relate to Churchill as a man; it seems the screenwriter wanted to focus on Churchill losing his grip with reality. Not long into the film we eventually began to feel tired of his character, as he constantly made the same mistakes. Despite this, we get a well performed portrayal of Churchill’s wife by Miranda Richardson, she offered some of the most touching moments in the film. The casting was one of the film’s greatest assets, its story, not so much.
We respect that this film didn’t overly glorify Churchill, his past was a rough one, and he made mistakes just like everyone – but this film had the tendency to make him seem irrational, grumpy, and unreasonable. While watching this film, it’s difficult to feel a sense of pride for Churchill as a leader, in many scenes he is disrespected and looked down on, not only this he also makes a barrage of mistakes throughout the film. Churchill ultimately ends up being an annoyance throughout the course of the film, despite this being an in depth look into his life. This film could have taken any angle of Churchill’s life, but it instead decides to focus specifically on his failures as a man, rather than his obstacles as a leader.
The production design and camera-work offered some balance to the movie’s tone, and ultimately fit the intimate view which director Jonathan Teplitzky was aiming for. While much of the film’s best shots were environmental being shot in real locations as Churchill traveled from place to place, it had its moments of cinematic beauty where Churchill sat alone in all his symbolic and recognizable glory.
This film over-indulges in Churchill’s character as a man, and ultimately leads to a dull ending with little payoff, frankly there wasn’t much reason for this particular story to be explored, and it felt entirely like a wasted opportunity to explore the life of a man with a much richer history. With an admirable performance from Brian Cox and an intimate look into the trials and tribulations of a leader’s life in war; Churchill sadly offers little in the way of redeeming storytelling, as it focuses too much on one angle of a man’s life, instead of the grander scope.