Director: Joe Wright
The opening scene of this historical drama reminded me very much of that from the same era – Downfall. A young niave secretary is shown nervously into the presence of her country’s leader, without any pleasentries he starts dictating a letter. She is so nervous she makes a hash of it but persevered to become an important narrative device with which to view a historical giant. Lily James as Elizabeth Layton is a rare female presence in a world, made clear by her tour of the underground War Rooms, of men deciding the future of Western Europe.
Oldman, under a ton of rubber n glue, may not look much like Churchill in the stark daylight but in the dimly lit corridors, offices and rooms of power he moves and inhabits the man. Only when seen close up you realise it’s Oldman in there but at the dispatch box delivering those speeches or shuffling, slumped and brooding he csptures the essence of the man.
Very much told as one man against the establishment in a struggle to avoid a humiliating defeat and negotiated peace with a man whose name he cannot bring himself to utter Oldmans performance makes you forgive its flaws. Some “Basil Exposition” moments explaining who people are or historical facts are a bit clunky, Kristen Scott Thomas isn’t given much to do as his wife Clemmie apart from be exasperated and chide him. A scene on the Underground is a bit hokey but is more a visual representation of his thoughts on what the will of the people was.
There is no doubt this is the flag waving jingoistic version of Churchill that admits to some of his faults but that history was on his side.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
The Gathering Storm n all that