Darkest Hour – Film Review

Darkest Hour is a historical, biography drama film about the early days of World War II when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was appointed. Winston Churchill played by Gary Oldman, must decide on whether to negotiate with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, or choose to battle on, all the while fighting within his own party.

Gary Oldman is superb. If I had not been aware beforehand that Churchill was played by him, I would have not recognised him. And while I am not a history buff, I felt frustrated for Churchill with the struggle and disagreements within his own government. When everyone else in Churchill’s war cabinet was pushing for a peace treaty, Churchill had an undeniable fire and fear in him that fighting back and not surrendering was the best option for his country, and essentially for Europe.

My favourite scene in this film was when Gary Oldman’s character Churchill had a moment with his secretary Elizabeth Layton played by Lily James. When Ms Layton was typing up a speech for Prime Minister Winston Churchill during crazy hours of the night, he asked about a photo that she had on her desk, and the result ended with both together in tears.

Gary Oldman does an amazing job of making Winston Churchill appear intimidating yet thoughtful and sensitive. Churchill’s character development with his wife Clementine played by Kirsten Scott Thomas is beautiful to watch. Clementine at first seems to have almost miserably understood that with her husband’s career, family will always come second to country. But when her husband begins to doubt himself and feel lost, it is Clementine that is the arrow which points Churchill in the direction of his initial goals. This is not the only relationship to have evolved on-screen. Churchill’s relationship with King George VI played by Ben Mendelsohn also does the same, with the two first barely being able to be in the same room, to slowly developing into a relationship where trust is strong, and both realise that they have a lot more in common than they originally thought.

Darkest Hour is an unlikely but understandable companion piece to the 2017 film, “Dunkirk”. While Dunkirk shows the battle of the British soldiers, Darkest Hour displays the political battle that was happening at the same time back home. The costumes, the make-up, the script, the directing and the acting all make Darkest Hour incredible. With each scene poetic, theatrical and lively, it really felt like live theatre was unfolding before my eyes. Although all performances in Darkest Hour are impressive, it is Gary Oldman that is the champion of this film who deserves every accolade possible. I highly recommend a viewing of this film, even if you’re not a history buff. Darkest Hour is essentially the story of a man who metaphorically is assigned captain of a sinking ship which he successfully sails onward.

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