DARKEST HOUR – A Review by Cynthia Flores
2018 will go down in the books as the year of the dueling Winstons. First part of the year we had Brian Cox in the hit film Churchill that showed him at the end of the war and his run as Prime Minister. Now we have, in my opinion, the best performance of the late great British Prime Minister at the beginning of the war with Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour. His performance as Winston Churchill is simply transcendent. He gets lost in the role and breathes life into this iconic figure. Everyone else in this movie does a fine job playing their parts. Such as Clementine Churchill, (Kristin Scott) who shows the burden of being an infamous politician's wife. What it costs her while at the same time, lovingly supporting him, causing him to be a better leader. And Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) is perhaps one of the most famous secretaries in history. She was his young assistant who had to learn fast how to be there for him in such troubling times. With all this talent on the screen there is no question that this is Gary Oldman's film through and through. This is his best performance to date.
Darkest Hour follows the early days of Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) as he takes over the role of Prime Minister of Britain. The only people with more power than him are the royals, particularly King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn), who didn’t trust or like Winston at first. Churchill took the position during the early days of World War II when Hitler invaded Belgium and France, closing in on Britain.
The film chose a stunning visual language of dark nights lit up by the explosions from bombs dropped from overhead by Nazi planes. Or the unforgettable image of the dark elevator shaft Winston is riding down into the War Room bunkers. The singular yellow light from his elevator car lights up his face as he is surrounded by the inky darkness that’s closing in on him the same way Hitler’s evil is closing in on his country. In this movie there were shots that were so sublime in their framing that they reminded me of famous paintings I’ve seen hanging on museum walls. There’s a true artfulness in the film's cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, who gave us such captivating films like 2001s Amelie.
The Director (Joe Wright) does a splendid job making the grinding and bickering politics that were part and parcel of life in Parliament at that time seem thrilling instead of just petty and spiteful. The film lets the audience walk beside Churchill as he wrestles with the weight of the world on his shoulders. We are sweating it out with him as quite literally, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the next move the newly-appointed British prime minister makes. Winston Churchill had to decide whether he wanted to go along with most of Parliament and negotiate with Hitler or fight on against incredible odds.
Darkest Hour is a tour de force historical film that will be invading the Oscars next year. That’s why I give it an A+ rating.
Directed by Joe Wright
Written By Anthony McCarten
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 2h 5min
Historical Drama / Biography
Limited Release Dec 8th AMC NorthPark 15, Angelika Film Center Plano, Landmark Magnolia 5
Starring: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.