Show of the week
In the second scene of this historical drama Winston Churchill (Albert Finney) gives us a glimpse of his bare behind, then rehearses a speech while relieving himself. Well, there's a side of the great statesman we've never seen before.
Finney's Churchill is larger than life but also flawed, eccentric and surprisingly vulnerable. The story begins in 1934—six years before he becomes prime minister—and the renowned orator feels rejected and irrelevant after his denunciation of the Indian independence movement draws yawns in Parliament. "I'm finished, a ghost witnessing my own demise," he says with a typical touch of self-dramatization. Gradually, though, he returns to the forefront with his dire warnings against German militarism. As his political fortunes improve, his domestic life shows signs of strain. His beloved wife, Clemmie (Vanessa Redgrave), is off on a months-long trip abroad, and she may be taking undue interest in one of her male companions. Finney makes Churchill's loneliness and jealousy an endearing counterpoint to his vast ego.
The film spends a disproportionate amount of time on the mental anguish of Ralph Wigram (Linus Roache), a nervous ally in the Foreign Office who leaks information to help Churchill's cause. Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris) and nominee Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) are underutilized in supporting roles. But Finney's colorful performance is not to be missed.
Bottom Line: Finney earns V for Victory