Churchill review – transparently nationalistic biopic
Don’t pull rank; makes you seem small,” Clementine Churchill (a formidable Miranda Richardson) warns her husband. There are moments of both pathos and pity to be found in Jonathan Teplitzky’s transparently nationalistic biopic of Britain’s most famous prime minister, which takes place in the lead-up to D-Day. Teplitzky sets up Winston Churchill (Brian Cox, in a pantomime performance) as an out-of-touch underdog – “a moth-eaten old lion who has had his teeth pulled” – so as to amplify the effect when he inevitably leads the allies to victory. For a 98-minute film, the pace is glacial.
Every line of dialogue is delivered as though it’s The Most Important Speech in History, the words either whispered gravely or SHOUTED DRAMATICALLY, as if to underline Churchill’s profundity. No conversation is carried out at a reasonable volume, flattening the drama. The film busies itself with attempting to answer Churchill’s admittedly interesting existential conundrum: who will I be when I’m no longer fighting? Yet, over-desperate to legitimise his bullishness, it buckles under the weight of its own self-importance.
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