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W ith The Crown’s John Lith­gow fresh in the mind and Gary Old­man’s Dark­est Hour due later this year, our screens are hardly bereft of Win­ston Churchills at the mo­ment. If any­thing, though, Brian Cox is a bet­ter phys­i­cal match than ei­ther, his im­pos­ing bulk mak­ing him ideally suited to play­ing the leg­endary prime min­is­ter who led Britain to vic­tory in World War 2.

The burly Scot puffs a mean cigar too in a se­lec­tive biopic from Jonathan Teplitzky ( The Rail­way Man) that fo­cuses ex­clu­sively on the build-up to D-Day in June 1944. The way his­to­rian-turned-screen­writer Alex von Tun­zel­mann tells it, the iconic leader had se­ri­ous mis­giv­ings about the au­da­cious op­er­a­tion, full of dread that the in­va­sion of France would re­sult in an­other Gal­lipoli, the dis­as­trous WW1 of­fen­sive that he had mas­ter­minded while he was the po­lit­i­cal head of the Royal Navy. The drama in Churchill, then, lies in whether Win­ston will con­tinue to hold out or give in to pres­sure from US gen­eral Eisen­hower (John Slat­tery) and Field Mar­shal ‘Monty’ Mont­gomery (Ju­lian Wad­man), both of whom were ea­ger to get Op­er­a­tion Over­lord started.

If you’re af­ter epic bat­tle se­quences, best hold out for Christo­pher Nolan’s Dunkirk. But if you’re in the mood for a thought­ful char­ac­ter study, then Churchill cer­tainly fits the bill, not least thanks to Mi­randa Richard­son’s com­pas­sion­ate turn as Win­ston’s loyal wife Clem­mie. Neil Smith

Be­fore any fight­ing on beaches could be done, find­ing a lighter was a pri­or­ity…

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