June, 1944. Ninety-six hours to D Day. The Allied forces are massed on the south coast of England. Standing in the way of the largest invasion force in history is one man; British wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
Leave your preconceptions of Churchill at the cash desk; here we see an old, exhausted man, filled with foreboding about the Normandy landings, and racked with guilt about his part in the catastrophic Gallipoli landings in the first world war. He tries to stop Operation Overlord, interferes in the Allied commanders’ plans, attempts to get a berth on a British battleship for himself and King George VI, and sinks into despair and depression as he is forced to confront the fact that his romantic notions about glory are fantasy.
A study in the loneliness of leadership – be it Churchill, supreme Allied commander Eisenhower, or the British monarch – the point is laboured with too many panoramic shots of men alone on beaches or in palaces. Ironically, the film’s best scene is far more intimate, when King George VI quietly explains to Churchill why it is their duty to ‘stay at home, and stay safe.’
Strong performances, but overly episodic and repetitive. A good shot at redressing the myth, without ultimately diminishing the man.
Cast: Brian Cox (Winston Churchill), Miranda Richardson (Clementine Churchill), John Slattery (General Dwight D Eisenhower), Julian Wadham (General Bernard Montgomery), Richard Durden (General Jan Smuts), James Purefoy (King George VI), Danny Webb (General Alan Brooke).
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky.