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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director Jonathan Teplitzky and Cohen Media Group is an incredible telling about the man everyone knows as CHURCHILL: The Untold Story of D-Day.

It is ninety-six hours before D-Day in 1944 and Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) arrive for the final meeting with Dwight Eisenhower (John Slattery), Field Marshal Montgomery (Julian Wadham), Admiral Ramsay (George Anton) and King George VI (James Purefoy) to discuss the landing in Normandy, France.

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Much to the surprise of the battle leaders, Churchill makes it clear that he does not agree with the plans made and has ideas of his own. Eisenhower does not understand why he is trying to change plans that have taken so long to prepare. Standing his ground, the leaders of the Allied Forces are shocked.

Churchill’s wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) tells her husband that those in charge of the landing are perfectly capable. What she doesn’t know is that the internal fear is of a man who has seen thousands of young men dead on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915.

Even friend Jan Smuts (Richard Dursen) tries repeatedly to reach Churchill explaining that he should support the Allied Forces. Secretary Helen (Ella Purnell) begins to experience parts of his personality as the hours tick by and Churchill wants the invasion to stop.

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Turned down at every avenue, Churchill turns to the Almighty begging him to stop the invasion. Becoming emotionally reclusive as the hour draws near, it takes one timid voice to remind him of who he is and what his voice means to the people who need to hear its strength.

As the invasion commences, Churchill embraces what is to come and once again lifts up all within the sound of his voice.

Cox as Churchill once again brings a stellar performance that I could not stop watching. Capturing the wave of emotions from military failures to political turmoil’s, Churchill’s countrymen were not privy to his personal struggles and all seemed to plague him. Cox has captures all of it magnificently with a flawless performance. This is a performance that should be recognized for its depth – period.

Richardson as wife Clementine is equally brilliant. She is clearly a woman who knows her husband is a difficult and complex man yet isn’t afraid to have her opinion. Richardson embraces the strength of this woman and still allows her moments of tenderness that are endearing. I absolutely love when she calls Churchill out through his bellowing to make it clear that enough is enough.

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Durden as Smuts is a man who understands Churchill as a military man and tries to keep him focused. When others begin to turn away, Smuts reminds them of what Churchill means to their country and respects it. Purnell as Helen is a young woman who wants to do something important for the war effort. I don’t think putting up with Churchill’s antics was in the job description but I love her spunk.

Slattery as Eisenhower is a military man who sees the cloth Churchill is cut from but is not about to veer from a plan everyone agrees on. Never once does Slattery’s character back down and this actor does it with military understanding but only so far. Purefoy as King George VI has a brief part in the film and the most outstanding scene is explaining to Churchill that they both have a part to play to help win the war.

Other cast include Angela Costello as Kay Summersby, Danny Webb as Alan Brooke, Jonathan Aris as Mallory, Steven Cree as Captain Stagg, Peter Ormond as Briggs, and Kevin Findlay as Fanshawe.

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CHURCHILL: The Untold Story of D-Day is an absolutely stellar film with performances that are rich and riveting. Cox performance of Churchill is one of a complex man filled with the demons of war and the insecurities that a man in his position isn’t allowed to show.

Instead of this film showing the ravages of war that pretty much everyone has seen on film, it instead focuses on one of history’s leaders and gives Churchill a human side. I don’t mind learning that this man had fears and weaknesses as I would never trust a leader who didn’t, but it is how to overcome those fears that earns my respect.

In the end – it is one man’s journey through war.

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