When I think of Gary Oldman, he is completely synonymous with the fantasy genre. Sirius Black and Dracula are roles that I have known and loved him in so the thought of Gary Oldman stepping into a fat suit and taking up cigars for the role of Winston Churchill in the Darkest Hour left me with sincere concern. I needn’t have worried because once again, Oldman’s utter brilliance shines through in what is sure to be a winner in the coming awards season.
The Darkest Hour is a record of the political climate in Britain during WWII, moments before France’s surrender to Germany and the evacuation of Dunkirk. It details the pivotal moments in which recently elected Prime Minister Winston Churchill must decide for Great Britain and its extended empire, whether peace negotiations or fighting against the impending power of Germany is the way to end the second world war. This is not a movie aimed at looking at warfare on the Western Front – That is your ears aren’t subjugated to numerous bombings and your brain is rattled with the vibrations of artillery fire – It is about the political front, where another war entirely is being waged. The drama of Churchill’s inner party disintegrating with a lack of faith in Churchill, layered with the impending countdown towards the surrender of France and Belgium make for unforgettable viewing for any person interested in the history behind WW2.
There is a lot of comparison between Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” and Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour. This seems only natural, since the subject matters of both films are almost one in the same, however these are two completely different films. Where “Dunkirk” will offer another explosion based plot-line that is symptomatic of Nolan’s directorial and film style, Wright’s “Darkest Hour” offers a smarter, more stylish and more cinematographically beautiful, undertaking. It is clear then, that despite the comparisons drawn by many, that “Darkest Hour” should be viewed outside of “Dunkirk” since at its core the only similarity is that the word “Dunkirk” appears in both films.
Finally, I think it is important to mention Darkest Hour’s use of real footage and voice recordings throughout the film. This touch of realism in multiple areas throughout the film will be a good surprise to those who are familiar with the intricate details of WW2. Footage of Adolf Hitler planning his attacks on Europe as he advances towards Great Britain, and even an intimate conversation between Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt are interwoven throughout the movie simultaneously jumping out as different and completely fitting in. It is these minute details which create the whole verisimilitude of the Darkest Hour. These conversations, the date clicking down to the surrender of France that immerse the audience in a realism that I have not experienced in any other wartime film.
It is therefore, completely justified in its 5-star rating. A film which takes its audience behind the scenes of World War 2 and delivering powerful performances from all its players deserves every star and every accolade it receives. If you are looking for an intensive biograph of Churchill’s life in his early days as Prime Minister then I recommend Darkest Hour wholeheartedly as its storyline is completely enveloping and all-powerful.
Review by Brittany Treadwell