Film & TV
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Darkest Hour: a movie review

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill

Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and Kristen Scott Thomas as his wife, Clementine, is another (IMHO) masterpiece, beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted by a great cast.

This British coproduction from Focus Four Films and Working Titles Films, directed by Joe Wright, concentrates on a very brief segment and moment in history—literally weeks from the moment when the then sitting Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is forced to resign through a vote of no-confidence, through to a few days after the evacuation of 300,000 British troops via Dunkirk.

This is not an in-depth look at that moment in history, nor the people in power making all the decisions. But another well-crafted, cleverly told and thoroughly entertaining ‘snap-shot’ that is, once again, poignant and at once, very personal.

Gary Oldman is brilliant. I’ve not seen him in many movies prior to this, the only one that comes to mind is Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy — the John Le Carré penned novel turned movie. In which he starred along side another excellent cast of character actors. And just as he did in that movie, quietly stealing every scene he’s in. He did so again in Darkest Hour!

Every minute, nuanced moment is captivating. His performance never overdone, or belittling to, or a caricature of the great man he’s portraying. Subtle, considered, and emotive, we see a Churchill seldom seen up on screen. And while some have complained about the script being a little off-centre with it’s accuracy, who are we to know the difference. This is not a historically accurate movie. But a portrayal of a man in his and ‘our’ darkest hour, coming to terms with choices and terrible decisions made, and taking the responsibility for them.

Shout outs also go to Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, and Stephen Dillane as Lord Halifax. Both men spot-on in their portrayals of their characters.

With an ensemble cast of British actors who became their ‘characters’ up on screen, to the witty, droll, acerbic dialogue, through to the beautifully rendered cinematography, Darkest Hour is another must-see movie that will have you wishing, we had a little Churchill in our lives.

One of my all-time heroes, in one of my top-10 favourite movies.

14 Comments

  1. My husband and I both loved this film, Alex. We thought Oldman did an outstanding job as Churchill. And the atmosphere of the times was, I think, brilliantly conveyed. Also well done, in my opinion, was the touch of political infighting in Parliament at the time. All in all, an excellent film.

    • Alex says

      Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed it too, Margot. We really thought it was an outstanding movie, with great performances, especially Gary Oldman. And if you loved this one, I’m sure you would love the Victoria movie as well.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Alex. I must confess that I was disappointed in it. Too much hype perhaps – and the scene on the tube was so unnecessary imo. But I agree that Ben Mendelsohn was excellent. Perhaps seeing this so soon after seeing Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk was a mistake. I thought Dunkirk was a masterpiece – now there’s a film in my top 10! (Along with The King’s Speech since we’re mentioning George VI 🙂 )

    • Alex says

      Yes, while it’s true, having Churchill on the underground was something of a plot device, the movie as a whole though was excellent. The cinematography superb, and yes, we thought Mendelsohn’s performance outstanding. So remarkable was the likeness and that voice. Really good casting.

      Strangely enough, we didn’t enjoy Dunkirk. I thought it was unnecessarily violent, and a bit over the top. I had family die there, so for me, and the movie itself seemed choppy and disjointed. The whole thing left a kind of nasty taste in my mouth. But then, that just might be me.

      Meanwhile, yes the King’s Speech too is another masterpiece.

        • Alex says

          Indeed, Sandra. I think it comes down to emotion and or head space how we react to any given movie. It would be a sad day if we all loved or hated the same things, right? ☺️

          • Wouldn’t it just – as with books 🙂 A personal connection makes a huge impact with any medium. Sometimes it’s just wrong time, wrong place. But we agree on The King’s Speech! 🙂 🙂

            • La Blonde says

              Oh, indeed. That’s what makes it so much fun to read everyone’s blogs and book reviews, you get something different every time.

              And ‘Hear, hear!’ to the King’s Speech. I do love me a really good period drama. 😀

  3. I can not wait to see this movie Alex. I have been eyeing it out for a while as it’s now rent-able and will watch it as soon as the right mood strikes. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it. I’m so happy you enjoyed it. 🙂

  4. Oh Alex, you and I have the same taste in movies. I just watched this yesterday! And Dunkirk today! I love British history! Have you watched “The Flowers Of War”? I highly recommend it.

    • La Blonde says

      It sounds like we do, Veronica! 😀 And no, I haven’t heard of “The Flowers of War”, I’ll have to look that one up too, thanks.

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