Darkest Hour (2017)

Length: 2hr 5

Release: 12.1.2018

Rating: PG

About: A thrilling and inspiring true story begins at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

The Good

  • Gary Oldman. He’s always been a chameleon, but his portrayal as Winston Churchill made him almost unrecognisable and It’s not hard to see why Oldman took home the Oscar in 2018; he was fully immersed in the role and made the film what it was.
  • Ben Mendelsohn is, once again, earning his place within Hollywood. He’s an ideal fit for King George and his chemistry with Oldman is a delight to watch.
  • Lily James gives a fine performance and certainly feels at home in this period piece. She’s another fine actor who is able to hold her own and raise others as a result.
  • There are some beautiful scenes; ones in which you’d want to pause, print and display. The colour and focus all draws you in. It’s always a difficult one for me, watching a film at home, however it’s a good sign that my phone remained off other than for finding out who the snakes in government were.

The Bad

  • Owing to my lack of knowledge when it comes to political history, I did struggle with the people presented to the audience at the beginning. It’s a little busy and people heavy at the start and I couldn’t help but feel thrown in the deep end.
  • Lily James. As much as she gives a solid performance, I cannot help but feel she’s a character put in place to appease the critics and viewers waging war on equality. Without her imput and given Kristen Scott Thomas’ small role, this would be a ‘boy’s club’ movie, as it’s the way society was at those times ‘thems the rules’ as James’ War Room tour guide explains. The problem stands in the fact that the character is almost rolled in and out periodically and there’s large sections were I wonder if she’s left for good. Churchill letting her in on Dunkirk, while story-wise is a nice touch, seems too implausible to be believed.

The Ugly

  • My emotions watching this movie were largely based upon watching from a perspective of hindsight. I felt so very frustrated at the opposition Churchill faced and even the notion of ‘brokering peace’ with Hitler brought me to tears. Even knowing how it was to end and that Churchill is a celebrated political leader did not help; the writing and performances had me believing this could have been a possibility.

Final Thoughts

A powerful film that takes some artistic licence to tell a cinematic story. Some work well for me and others I’m at odds with.

As a woman, I do not want a lip service character for the sake of checking a box and being politically correct. Period pieces are one area in which it stands out more than others.

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