British Films for Summer 2017 Take Audiences Back in Time

'Victoria & Abdul' comes to the big screen in September (Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features)

Summer is prime movie season in part due to the lovely air-conditioned darkness that can transport you to different places and eras. And it would appear that this summer, British films will be doing just that.  The offerings range from the Victorian era to the Cold War and beyond. With an impressive list of actors paired with the many compelling, and often true, stories on offer, I predict you’ll want to make a point to see at least a few of these films.

In Churchill, Brian Cox stars as the legendary war-time prime minister. Set in June 1944 during the time leading up to the D-Day landings, we find Mr. Churchill under tremendous stress and uncharacteristically indecisive. Only through the support and strength of his wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) does Winston find the inspiration to lead his country to victory. Churchill opens on June 2nd and is rated PG.


My Cousin Rachel is based on a romantic suspense novel by author Daphne Du Maurier and was adapted to the big screen once before in 1952.

The current version stars Rachel Weisz as the title character, a mysterious beguiling widow who may or may not be a murderess. Also featuring Sam Claflin from last summer's Me Before You and Game of Throne's Iain Glen, this gothic Victorian thriller opens in limited release on June 9th and is rated PG-13.


The Journey is a fictional account of two real Northern Irish political rivals who met in 2006 to discuss the devolution of power in their country. Founder of the Democratic Unionist Party Ian Paisley is played by Timothy Spall and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness is portrayed by Colm Meaney. Forced to take an unexpected trip together, these sworn enemies form an unlikely friendship and in doing so change the course of history.

The Journey which opens June 16th is rated PG-13 and also stars Toby Stephens and Freddie Highmore.


Dunkirk is the anticipated historical blockbuster of the summer. Directed by Brit Christopher Nolan of Inception and The Dark Knight/Batman fame, this is his first foray into period filmmaking.

As the name implies, this movie tells the harrowing story of the evacuation of World War II Allied troops from the French city of Dunkirk as they try to evade the surrounding Nazi army. This star-studded cast includes Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and former One Direction singer Harry Styles in his acting debut. Dunkirk is set for release on July 21st and is rated PG-13.


With Atomic Blonde, I might be stretching a bit to call it a British film. However, it does star James McAvoy and features talented character actors Toby Jones and Eddie Marsan.

Charlize Theron (not British) stars as a Cold War era MI6 spy sent into Berlin on the eve of the Wall’s collapse to take down an espionage ring that is targeting their agents. What follows appears to be a great deal of stylized violence and sexiness, but did I say it has James McAvoy in it? Atomic Blonde opens on July 28th and is rated R.


Victoria & Abdul opens on the last official day of summer, September 22nd and so makes our list! Dame Judi Dench takes on the role of Queen Victoria for the second time in her career in this true story of an unlikely alliance in the later years of the monarch’s reign.

When a young clerk named Abdul Karim (Bollywood actor Ali Fazal) travels from India to take part in the Queen's Golden Jubilee, Victoria takes a shine to him. This connection leads to a devoted friendship and enlightenment that those around her fail to understand or trust but which the Queen sorely needs. The supporting cast includes Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard and the late Tim Pigott-Smith. Victoria & Abdul is rated PG-13.


Please chime in on whether any of the movies listed above are on your must-see list.  Also if there are some titles I may have missed, by all means, share them with the class. Welcome to summer and happy viewing!