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2019 Winter Film Festival

January 25, 26 and 27, 2019

Sunday October 1, 2017 4:00pm 
Raindow Theatre, Northumberland Mall, Cobourg

ChurchillTensions mount for the beleaguered British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) in the days leading up to infamous Allied D-Day landings in Normandy, France in June, 1944. Fearful of repeating his deadly mistakes from World War I in the Battle of Gallipoli, exhausted by years of war, plagued by depression and obsessed with his historical destiny, Churchill is reluctant to embark on the large-scale campaign, one that the entire war effort hinges upon. Clashing with his Allied political opponents U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower (John Slattery) and British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (Julian Wadham), the troubled Churchill receives support and devotion from his wife, the brilliant and unflappable Clementine Churchill (Miranda Richardson). With her strength and shrewdness, "Clemmie" halts Winston's physical, mental spiritual collapse and inspires him on to greatness.

Leads:  Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Ella Purnell, James Purefoy
Directed by:  Jonathan Teplitzky
Genre: Bio, Drama  Language: English
Run time:  110 minutes  Rating: PG

Review by Louise Keller:

ChurchillThere are a few scenes that resonate, but overall Jonathan Teplitzky's Churchill is a plodding affair. Taking place in the 96 hours prior to D-Day, the film feels as though it is trying to be all things to all people, weaving together the professional, personal and emotional lives of Winston Churchill: Prime Minister, husband, depressive. Little seems credible or convincing, although it could be argued that elements involving Churchill's depression are handled poetically. Performances are excellent however, with Brian Cox potent as Churchill, Miranda Richardson arresting as his wife Clementine and John Purefoy moving as King George VI.

My favourite scene is the one in which King George talks to Churchill about duty. It's a wonderful moment, when the stuttering King gently makes his cigar-chomping Prime Minister understand his place and the role he needs to embrace. Other scenes worthy of note include those between Churchill and Clementine, when the bumpy textures of their marriage are revealed.

ChurchillThe English country settings are beautiful and some of the pensive moments play out well. However there is little sense of the chaos that must have taken place in the war office scenes and the exchanges between Eisenhower and others feels staged. It is also difficult to imagine Churchill yelling at his typist (Ella Purnell).

Lorne Balfe's music score is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Instead of enhancing the mood and action, the music jumps out prominently, demanding our attention in the worst way. It irritates. Teplitzky, whose direction of The Railway Man (2013) resonates for its sensitivity, manages the material with care, but the result disappoints. It feels like an incomplete portrait and one fraught with historical inaccuracies.

This is one of two films about Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour (2017) stars Gary Oldman as Churchill, Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine and Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI. It is directed by the well-credentialed Joe Wright (Atonement) and penned by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything). It will make for an interesting comparison.