Darkest Hour

This film chronicles the early period of World War 2, through a time span covering roughly about a month. The period that the movie covers was before the Americans and Russians joined the war effort, a time when the British Empire was at its most vulnerable; and in many ways, this is reflected in the character of Winston Churchill himself. Gary Oldman portrays Churchill, a man synonymous with the British war effort. The director Joe Wright shows us a Churchill who is a far cry from the fearless war-time leader that we have come to know, we see a man who is loathed by his own party and has known many failures. The film acts as both a character study and also a new perspective on the previously trodden WW2 film. There are elements of a cat and mouse struggle throughout the film, with the hierarchy of the Conservative party made up of Lord Halifax, (in an excellent turn by Stephen Dillane), and the previous Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, (Ronald Pickup) trying to force Churchill to enter into peace talks, when the man himself wants to fight to the bitter end. This film is incredibly accurate in its presentation of figure from the time period, such as Ben Mendelsohn’s King George the 4th, before I went to see this film I had been watching Netflix’s the crown which featured both King Geroge the 4th and Winston Churchill, and I had loved the job Jared Harris had done playing the late king but Ben Mendelsohn’s performance here made me completely forget about Harris’s iteration.  The film despite it’s PG age rating doesn’t stray away from the horrors of war with a Calais scene showing the sacrifice made and provoking an emotional response from anyone who sees it. It is in creating that emotional significants and capturing ideals and patriotism, that make this film as great as it is. Whether it is through Lilly James’s Elizabeth Layton, who experinces the horrors of war and carries on, or whether it is shown through the British public who have a bitter resolve to never surrender to Hitler no matter what. This film  has an air of hopelessness with the British position often looking bleak and that brings with it many sad moments, but it is with that the film also brings with it a sense of optimism, a sense that through the bad we can endure and come out stronger. Also Joe Wright dedicates quite a bit of screen time to exploring Churchill relationship with his wife Clementine, (played here by Kristin Scott Thomas), is shown to be the rock that held Churchill together when he most needed it, this emotional softer element of the film helps to keep it varied, and develops the characters in quite a satisfying way.  Overall this film is a well paced, well acted, well directed film and it deserves all the awards recognition it’s getting. This film inspired a strong sense of patriotism in me, what more can I say; except this film would make an excellent double feature with last years Dunkrik.

5/5

Reviewed by Luke

 

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