Saturday, September 30, 2017

Blu-ray/Digital/DVDebut: Jonathan Teplitzky's remarkable, stirring docudrama, CHURCHILL

CHURCHILL got past me when the film hit theaters earlier this year, but I'm very pleased to have caught up with it for its home video debut. It represents the best work director Jonathan Teplitzsky (Burning Man, The Railway Man) has so far given us, and it has a screenplay written by historian and first-timer screenwriter Alex von Tunzelmann that is remarkable in its ability to produce singular moments of great drama with subtlety, elegance, wit and feeling. One of the most memorable scenes I can recall in a long while is here: between Winston Churchill (a great Brian Cox) and King George VI (James Purefoy, as moving and surprising as you will have seen this versatile actor ).

The above scene, as well as several more equally as fine, dot this quiet but surprisingly suspenseful, compelling movie that details the enormous burden Churchill experienced, as D-Day approached, and the Prime Minister -- still experiencing the trauma of the earlier wartime blunder/ massacre he had been large responsible for at Gallipoli -- felt so strongly against the approaching operation. As written, acted by an ace cast, and directed with wonderful elegance and restraint by Teplitzky (shown above), these scenes combine to form one of the better docudramas of recent times. This is an intimate movie, using mostly interiors, with the exteriors located at the seaside or in country houses, so there's little need for big-budget sets and scenes flooded with extras.

Instead we get the drama of decision-making, of politics behind the scenes, and of relationships -- Churchill's with his wife, Clementine (the wonderful Miranda Richardson, above, with Mr. Cox); and with everyone from The King to General Eisenhower (John Slattery, below, left), Field Marshall Montgomery (Julian Wadham), and especially his aide-de-camp (a lovely, smart and deeply felt performance from Richard Durden).

This is one chapter of Winston Churchill's life for which the man would probably not want to be best remembered, but it's an important one nonetheless. TrustMovies must admit to half expecting the movie to be something of a "duty" he needed to view. Nonsense. Instead it proved surprising, thrilling in its singular manner, and full of pulsating life. It's a beautiful film in every way. Stick it on your "must" list.

From Cohen Media Group, Churchill arrives on DVD, Digital and Blu-ray (the transfer is impeccable, and the "making of" bonus feature quite worth seeing) this Tuesday, October 3 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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