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Academy Award winner Gary Oldman gives a "towering performance" (Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair) in acclaimed director Joe Wright's soaring drama Darkest Hour. As Hitler's forces storm across the European landscape and close in on the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill (Oldman) is elected the new Prime Minister. With his party questioning his every move, and King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) skeptical of his new political leader, it is up to Churchill to lead his nation and protect them from the most dangerous threat ever seen. Also starring Academy Award nominee Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James, Darkest Hour is a powerful, inspirational drama.
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If Oldman does not win the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal, I might just have to quit watching movies (which would make me very sad). His performance was so stunning. There was never a time during the film that I didn't think I wasn't watching the actual Winston Churchill. Just the mannerisms, posture, detail to the voice of Churchill, Oldman's portrayal was perfection. The outstanding makeup only added to Oldman's performance.
I did read some reviews that said this movie was completely historically inaccurate. My response to that is: A) it's not a documentary, and B) the major points were accurate. My husband is an avid student of WWII history, and he felt the movie was phenomenal. It's Hollywood, they are going to dramatize things. If you want complete historical accuracy, watch a documentary.
The cinematography was very interesting. It matches the movie's title poster. Very lighted on Winston, but a feeling of a vignette of darkness around him. Sometimes the effect was softer, and others it was very sharp and contrasting. I felt this added some emotional depth to the movie, and added some insight to how isolated he felt during his first days as PM.
I am probably going to watch The King's Speech, Darkest Hour and Dunkirk in that order on the same day...
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from British director Joe Wright, whose previous work includes the fine 2012 remake of "Anna Karenina". Here, working from a script by Anthony McCarten, we get a close look at Churchill in his early days as Prime Minister. The movie covers the period of May 9-28, 1940, so this by no means meant as a definitive bio-pick f the life and times of Winston Churchill, who had an amazing and long political career, spanning 5 decades. If you hope to learn anything about Churchill's personal life, then this movie is definitely not for you (his wife Clementine appears in some scenes, and their grown-up kids in exactly 1 scene). If on the other hand you are curious how Churchill ran his War Cabinet or how Churchill dealt with King George, then this movie is very much for you. I have no idea whether all of what we see on the big screen actually happened or not (did Churchill really take that subway ride to be "among the British people"?), but the narrative is certainly there. And there there is Gary Oldman, in the role of his life as Winston Churchill. Oldman is virtually unrecognizable under all of the heavy makeup, and instead it is as if we see Churchill in the flesh. A role like this in a movie like this, is sure to generate a LOT of nominations in the upcoming awards season (Oldman was already nominated for the Golden Globes). Comments Churchill's wife at one point: "You are wise because you have doubts", and that about sums it up. It's apparently very lonely at the top, and riddled ith doubts. WHat a job Churchill did under the most demanding of circumstances. Last but certainly not least, as I was watching this movie, it feels like the other side of the coin to "Dunkirk", a very different movie obviously, but covering some of the same historical ground and facts. "Darkest Hour" is also far better than the weak "Churchill" movie from earlier this year (starring Brian Cox).
"Darkest Hours" opened on 4 screens this weekend here in Cincinnati. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at (in a fairly large theater) was absolutely jam-packed to the rafters, much to my surprise. Looks like there is a large appetite for this type of historical drama. I encourage you to check out "Darkest Hour", be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.