The initial appeal of Darkest Hour (2017) is seeing Gary Oldman transform into Winston Churchill believably (which the trailer made obvious). But although that works (when seeing the film), the film is better as a testament to Churchill’s stand during World War II, rather than being a good quality, riveting drama. However, it was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture (Oldman took home the Best Actor award for 2017). Positive reception may just depend on how one is willing to endure the stuffy elements.
During the uncertain days of the Second World War, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of England, replacing the statistically and politically unpopular Neville Chamberlin. Chamberlin couldn’t lead during wartime according to one observer.
Perhaps equally unpopular was Churchill after a series of misfires as diplomat. But he had the backing of the opposition in Parliament so was the obvious choice.
Churchill struggles leading Britain during wartime, but his stubbornness and resolve to pursue his policies against Nazi Germany rather than sign a peace treaty with them is his great strength. Churchill did the right thing at the right time, despite the surrounding pressures inside and outside Parliament.
Churchill is played as a charmless, but genuine and kind person, whose charm-lessness has the opposite effect of being charming in its odd way, and his humour sharp and biting.
Oldman conveys the flaws and strengths of his character with masterfulness. Otherwise, Darkest Hour is a bit of an uninteresting, even boring war-time drama, replete with grey suited English politicians in stuffy stodgy environs of the parliamentary corridor, and very little production colour to brighten things up. It is efficiently bland with an even more pedantic sense of precision than the director’s Atonement.
However, still worth a look for Oldman, made up unmistakably as Churchill and executed just like the man himself, and the theme is worthy.
Darkest Hour (2017) Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ronald Pickup, Lilly James, Ben Mendelsohn. Director: Joe Wright.