Darkest Hour: Gary Oldman steals the show as Winston Churchill
Movie Review by Dhanalakshmi R (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Darkest Hour is about Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister and the issues, he faces during the World War II. With focus on Churchill and his government in 1940, the movie takes you back in time to the major events of the period.
The movie starts from where the opposition Labor party demands the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) to resign owing to his ineffectiveness in handling the war situation. Left with no choice, Chamberlain is forced to choose Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) as his successor. Members of the party do not approve of Churchill as he is known to be sharp-tongued and the man who takes hasty decisions. Soon after being appointed as the Prime Minister, Churchill faces heat from all the directions.
Set in 1940, when Britain and France were allies against Nazi Germany. Members of the Parliament advice Winston Churchill to approve a peace talk with Germany, as the latter were on the verge of losing a battle with France. However, the Prime Minister doesn’t agree to it and insists that they must strike back. The movie focuses on the internal conflicts among members of the Labor Party.
Director Joe Wright creates carefully etched out characters in this engaging movie. Winston Churchill is presented as witty, sharp-tongued and a great orator. Also, he is shown as a man with sense of humor in the movie. Gary Oldman gets into the skin of the character and makes you believe that he is Churchill. He shines throughout the film with his exceptional performance. Clementine Churchill (Kristin Scott), wife of Churchill is portrayed as a woman of substance and probably, shown as the only person who can reign him in. Other important characters include Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), who plays secretary of Churchill, Ben Mendelsohn as George VI and Anthony Eden played by Samuel West.
Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is par excellence and you are quite easily transported back to 1940s through the frames and color palette. Background score by Dario Marianelli is powerful and perfectly resonates the era.
Being a historical fiction, Wright ensures that he adds his touch, here and there. For instance, there is a scene where Churchill takes the underground train to know public’s opinion on peace negotiations with Germany. It is a well-written scene where the PM travels with the general public and makes conversations with them. When he realizes that the majority of them are against peace negotiations with Germany, Churchill makes up his mind and decides to not engage in peace talk.
Towards the end Churchill is shown delivering a powerful speech in the Parliament about how the British forces should strike back and not really engage in discussions. It leaves a lasting impact and stays with you long after the film ends.
The only disappointing factor about the film is its dearth of war scenes as one would expect from a film set in background of World War II.