Churchill – Movie Review
Written by Radio Heatwave on July 7, 2017
If you’re walking into this movie expecting war, blood, guts and glory, turn away now. This period piece set in late World War II has none of that.
Come into the excitement of an ongoing battle where the trials of emotions rock the strong Churchill. You will be pleasantly surprised, too, by the unexpected warm fuzzies.
The movie takes more scenic approach, opting for long pieces of emotion-filled speeches and intense dialogue between characters. One of the most notable examples of this is the conversation between Churchill, played by Brian Cox, Dwight D. Eisenhower (John Slattery) and Bernard Montgomery (Julian Wadham). They discuss their battle plans and Winston Churchill, a veteran of the first Great War, completely rejects the idea of the attack. After a heated argument, his two comrades tell him that his leadership is no longer required. Winston goes into an absolute frenzy of doubt, fear and worry.
The rest of the film follows Winston’s dark descent into realising how much the war had meant to him. The movie draws astonishing parallels to the five stages of grief, namely being denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Cox’s performance as Churchill is astounding. The face of pure anger during the discussion with Eisenhower and Montgomery, his desperation when his wife slaps him and the relief and glee when weather ruins the plans of Operation Overlord are all incredibly genuine. Every expression convinces the eyes of an audience that the man is really Churchill himself.
However, the scenes are terribly rushed. The story is hurried by, and the movie doesn’t take it’s time to let the huge moments of the film sink in. Even the final resolution to the movie, as happy and charming as it turns out to be, is crammed into the last 20 minutes of the movie.
While he goes through some relationship problems with his wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson), and his own existential crisis, everything comes to a seizing halt, when secretary Helen Garrett (Ella Purnell) has an abrupt break down. Everything seems to be magically solved by this one moment in the film, which doesn’t seem to sufficiently justify character motives. The performances of side characters is still strong. Clementine shows genuine concern and eventually frustration over Winston’s incessant stubbornness. Her performance really leaves Winston feeling like there is no one around him to agree with. Helen Garrett is quite the character in the movie, proving to be the deciding factor between Churchill’s dark descent into depression and the around in his attitude.
Could Clementine have been upset because she had been given a cold shoulder over the course of her husband’s career? Would Helen have thought of quitting her job under the pressure of working for Britain’s Prime Minister? Despite the rich opportunity to have better developed all other characters, everyone aside from Churchill seemed like a convenient plot device, driving the story to an inevitable happy ending.
This, in conclusion means that there is little that can remedy what ends up being a “Wait, that’s it?” feeling that you get at the end of the movie. However, the film is still a fresh take on war movies and the greatest Briton to ever live, showing the emotional and tender side of a tough, commander with guts of steel.
Written by: Rex Ho and Koh Jie Min
Edited by: Robyn Lee