I cannot understand how few reviewers here are complimentary. Michael
Gambon delivers a magnificent performance, true to what we know of
Churchill's personality and complex nature. It doesn't matter to me
that the actor doesn't look very much like the great man - he PRESENTS
a great man in a health crisis to perfection. LIndsay Duncan is
'Clemmie' exactly as I remember her from the public image of the time.
The way her hair is done is exquisitely correct. I was eleven and I
remember the drama of Churchill's illness from the newspapers. I
remember, as a boy, noting that Churchill's personal doctor was a
certain Lord Moran who came and went initially at the famous front door
of Number 10. We all knew that Chartwell was the Churchill country seat
(not his 'ancestral home' which, as we know, was Blenheim Palace where
he was born.) It was wonderful that the filming took place at
Chartwell. We also knew that Churchill's children were difficult,
particularly the boorish Randolph, and that Sir Winston was probably to
blame for having neglected them through his undoubted self-absorption.
Romola Garai, as always, creates a memorable personality with her
entirely believable ace nurse. The casting is superb, the settings
perfect and the art direction highly sensitive. And the cars! How I
loved the shiny cars of my childhood. There's a pristine, bulbous
Austin that I remember admiring as a boy. Delicious visual details are
abundant in the film. There were many moments when I was surprised by
my own tears, notably when Lady Churchill, having warmed sufficiently
to the newly-met young nurse, poured out the story of the child she and
Winston had lost; to this wise, down-to-earth, delightful young woman.
These were probably the last days of the "right to rule" self-image of the Tory Party. For England's powerful middle classes it was still normal to think of a Labour Government as a temporary aberration. The moment I saw the book that Winston inscribed to his nurse I recalled that not even the first volume of "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples" had yet been published. But it didn't matter in the slightest. It was not a gaffe. It was an inspired and moving moment in the plan of this outstanding film. The acting skills on display in 'Churchill's Secret' are - I submit - breathtaking. Why do we take for granted the artistry of our wonderful British actors? We need to show them our love with the compliments they deserve.
In June 1953, two years after he was re-elected as Prime Minister Winston Churchill collapses following a dinner party at Downing Street. Diagnosed by his doctor Lord Moran as having a stroke there are fears that he may not survive and he is taken to his country home Chartwell. Publicly he is said to be suffering from exhaustion and the newspaper owners consent to printing the deception. As his children arrive to watch over him they feud over son Randolph's drinking and daughter Sarah's less than illustrious film career whilst Winston's wife Clemmie reflects on the loss of another daughter who died in infancy. The Cabinet is informed of events as Moran brings in plain-spoken Yorkshire nurse Millie Appleyard to look after the great man. With her help and his wife's devotion Churchill survives to address the Conservative party conference later in the year, before retiring as premier two years later, the country as a whole being unaware all along of Churchill's secret.
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