If you need an actor to play Winston Churchill look no further than Harry Potter. The great Gary Oldman is the fifth man to play the wartime PM relatively recently after Timothy Spall, Robert Hardy, Michael Gambon and Brendan Gleeson, and he certainly has the gravitas to carry it off. That’s evidenced by his recent Golden Globe win and BAFTA nomination (the film also scored another eight nominations). Despite that, what he doesn’t have is a script that helps him out much, or a director who brings the story to life. A shame, as it could have been so much more, set during a pivotal month in WWII.
This is apparently the passion project of writer Anthony McCarten, but quite what he is trying to tease out of the well-worn story remains something of a mystery. He also plays fast and loose with history – the idea that Churchill was befriended by his best mate the King seems a stretch, as does the idea that most of Parliament wanted to do a deal with Hitler – some did certainly, but not the majority. Another idea, that a doubting Churchill was buoyed by taking a tube train and is roused by the voices of the people, is frankly ludicrous. Some truly dodgy acting by extras doesn’t help. [Read more…]