Germany is advancing its forces across Western Europe. Belgium is about to fall and the French are about to surrender. Concern is mounting in the United Kingdom that Hitler’s Nazi forces are positioning themselves to cross the divide and begin bombing runs on the Island. The fate of the Kingdom is looking grim and a newly appointed Prime Minister has the weight of Western Europe on his shoulders. So, does “Darkest Hour” paint an accurate picture of Churchill’s life in this dark time or should we abandon this film? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
This is the third film in a years time that examines the events leading up to, beyond, or singularly, Dunkirk and World War 2. Two of the three films examine the appointment of Winston Churchill while the other examines what life on the beaches of Dunkirk must have been like during that time of war. All three films have a different approach to how the story is told but each enjoyable for that specific reason. I can say this as I have seen and reviewed all three films (Churchill, Dunkirk and Darkest Hour).
Gary Oldman deserves all the high praise he has received for his portrayal of Churchill. He delivers a performance that is a complete transformation into his role. Unlike the movie “Churchill” this film looks more at the human side of Winston and how it’s no simple task to be the voice of opposition (as a leader whose leadership abilities are already in question) before even having accepted the role of Prime Minister. It’s clear from the beginning that the parties and the King of England are all hesitant in the decision to bring Churchill to the valued and important role of Prime Minister. In fact, he is not their first choice in the decision to replace the current Prime Minister and they explain why. So we get a clear sense of who he is before we meet him and a glimpse at why he comes across as bullish or unflexable.
The supporting cast in this film does well enough to seem believable without overshadowing Oldman’s performance. Ben Mendelsohn (as the King) came across as determined, thoughtful, thought filled and understanding. Lily James has once again delivered a performance that was enchanting. Her role as Churchill’s personal assistant was believable and the emotion that she delivers on screen added much to the moments she shares with Oldman. Overall, the roles that everyone had to play they did a fine job with. If any two actors stood out, it was Oldman and James.
“Darkest Hour” is playing in theaters now! I am definitely recommending a big screen viewing of this film. While you could easily skip this film until it’s available on DVD/BLU-Ray and get just as much from the story, you would miss out on the opportunity to talk about the importance of the story, Winston Churchill, and how well shot this movie was. Director Joe Wright did a great job slowly moving in and backing away from characters using just the right amount of speed on the camera. The color pallets used to help emphasize the mood of each scene was also very enjoyable. This is a dramatic story that looks at humans as fallible, passionate, determined, intelligent, caring and more. So much of the human experience is wrapped up in each of these characters as they contemplate what it would mean to surrender to the Nazi’s or fight until all lives have been lost. Go see this film!