Film Review: Darkest Hour
Whodunnit? This film is a product of a successful joining of studios; Universal Pictures, Working Title and Focus Features. They also created the Oscar winning hit, The Theory of Everything; the moving biopic of Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane. It appears they have found a formula which works again in their latest offering with Gary Oldman nominated for Best Actor in the 2018 Academy Awards. Darkest Hour is typical of British director Joe Wright’s famous style of beautifully framed, lengthy tracking shots (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina). He follows the central character, Winston Churchill through the nation’s ‘darkest hour’ during World War II with intelligent use of composition and colour in each frame so that some could be mistaken for carefully crafted paintings. What’s it like? Gripping from start to finish. It is very much a one man show with Oldman dominating every scene throughout the 2 hours and 5 minutes, but he is so convincingly, almost unbelievably, good at embodying Churchill that you contentedly immerse yourself in the heated dialogue and root for the bumbling, cigar-puffing old codger against all the odds who of course, never surrenders.
Best bits: The scenes with Churchill and his wife are incredibly heart-warming; Kristin Scott-Thomas plays Clemmie, Winston’s weary but patient, loving and loyal wife who acts to console him in his moments of desperation. My favourite scene however, is when Churchill receives advice from the King to consult the British people about the idea of surrendering to Germany which he does when he climbs aboard a London tube carriage and sits amongst the ‘common man’. It shows the steely resolve of the wartime Londoners who are determined that they will fight for their country until their dying breath.
Good for the Soul: 4/5 As much as the subject of war is distressing, Churchill’s sense of humour and endearing nature carry the film to its magnificent ending in a pleasing manner. Cinema audiences have reportedly applauded at Churchill’s famous quotes; he certainly knew the power of words.
Skill and Artistry: 5/5 The expert depiction of 1930s politics and the characterisation not only of Churchill but of the supporting characters too, creates a cinematic masterpiece, especially during Winston’s famous speech to the House of Commons. Wright’s beautifully artistic direction combined with intelligent script writing and very accomplished acting earns top marks for me in this category.
Should you watch this? 5/5 Absolutely. It is a fitting example of resilience in the face of adversity and shows the courage of not only Churchill but the British people as they faced threat of invasion. Oldman for the Oscar!
Having worked in marketing for Universal Pictures, Heather is now a stay-at-home mum and wife with a passion for travel, writing and the arts. Always in search of a good cup of coffee.