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Review: Churchill – “Emotionally charged scenes”

Churchill follows Winston Churchill and those around him as the war so intertwined with his time as Prime Minister nears its end. Brian Cox takes on the iconic man here as a Churchill refusing to be pushed aside by other leaders who feel his usefulness in winning the war is quickly coming to an end.

The film has some really well done emotionally charged scenes that are sure to capture audiences and there is some breathtaking cinematography that should absolutely be viewed on the large screen – especially the beach shots that are so full of sadness, longing and nostalgia. This is certainly a bold first feature from writer Alex von Tunzelmann.

Considering that this is her feature debut, there is an insanely talented cast on board. Firstly, Miranda Richardson is flawless as Clem Churchill, oozing Clem’s sense of duty and frustration with every utterance and glance. Her Clem is composed and ‘proper’ but she is also clearly so tired of everything that is expected of her. And while his staff run scared of offending a very angry Churchill, she holds nothing back, making sure he knows when he’s being ridiculous.

Similarly, James Purefoy is a real treat as King George VI, holding his own against the very well known portrayals done over recent years by Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Jared Harris (The Crown). He doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time but when he does appear he commands your attention with a gentle but powerful performance.

The King also seems to be the only character who can silence Churchill … because one of the most tedious aspects of this otherwise impressive film is all the shouting. There is so much shouting and aggression for the first half of the film that it quickly starts to grate and, rather than being powerful and intimidating, it just turns into white noise. Sadly, too, there are certain scenes that lacked the impact they should have had due to the distracting accents of certain cast members.

Despite focusing on a particular key point in the timeline, rather than getting bogged down in trying to tell Churchill’s entire life story, Churchill is still somewhat lacking in focus. There’s a lot of jumping around in tone and style and that makes it feel inconsistent in terms of audience engagement.

That said, when it gets it right, it gets it so right that it’s incredible.

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