A Shakespearean king sat upon his throne, the heirs once apparent to him lost to the whim of the moment. It could be said that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) faced a similar quandary during World War II, at least metaphorically.
Moreover, sequences in history can transcend via their film counterparts if, and only if, the actor becomes the character. Played many times on the large and smaller screens by a variety of capable thespians, what could Brian Cox do to refresh or enhance the picture already shown? Like Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon, he allows the camera to glimpse a man’s soul. Essentially, there are images where Cox’s body language and clothing (especially the hat) make the illusion complete. A make-up artist couldn’t hope for greater verisimilitude.
Days prior to the invasion of France, Churchill expresses doubts over the Allied plan. Little known to him, he’s a lonely dissenting voice in the wilderness. Meanwhile, his morale boosting skills that inspired so many Brits during the blitz must be heard again.
Nicely, Churchill doesn’t try to be two things at once. Occasionally, biopics have squandered coverage on back story. So, director Jonathan Teplitzky and writer Alex von Tunzelmann were wise to focus on politics. Every line can be heard, while Lorne Balfe’s score creates a suitable atmosphere.
Editor Chris Gill respects both the subject matter and his actors. Therefore, congratulations are in order for achieving the finest possible result. Thanks to him, Cox delivers a lived-in portrayal which layers multiply in purpose and resonance. This is great filmmaking period.
(Released by Lionsgate and rated "PG" for thematic elements, brief war images, historical smoking throughout, and some language.)