“You can not reason with a Tiger when your head is in its mouth!”
After an abysmal project with Peter Pan, Joe Wright returns to the director’s chair in Darkest Hour. The film tells the story of Winston Churchill’s appointment to Prime Minister following the passive predecessor, Neville Chamberlain during the height of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power during World War 2.
As I watched Darkest Hour, I couldn’t help but compare the film to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Both political leaders try to guide their country at a point of war. And both films suffer, not with the actor’s portrayal of said real life characters, but rather the slow pace of the film during elaborate conversations and political war room debates. This may not break a historical film, but it slows down the pace of the film. Darkest Hour has those spurts of lag, but when the film gets going, it hits hard. I cannot bash on this film, because even for its faults, it’s a great. The performance by Gary Oldman as the powerful Churchill, is simply remarkable. Although Oldman’s real persona comes through, it is clear that Oldman’s time for a Best Actor Oscar is imminent. As for the fellow actors, they are really nothing to write home about. Supporting actresses such as Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas, are seen every once in a while. It’s hard to fully judge their performance because their amount of screen time was so scarce. However, the actors in the war room scenes add so much to the animosity that lingered when the involvement of the British people were involved.
The story told is one that is not told as often as other WW2 narratives. Churchill’s initial appointment, was at its best, a struggle of power within the British Parliament. Both political parties lack faith in Churchill’s “stand and fight” mentality when facing Hitler’s “no mercy” outlook and increasing rise in power. It’s hard to say whether you need to have prior knowledge of the events surrounding this period of the war. Having previously had recent conversations of the early parts of Hitler’s rise to power, I can honestly say that it did help to better understand Churchill’s logic in refusal of what other council members were telling him was the right maneuver in dealing with the Nazis. Wright does a good job in directing this gripping story. With this film temporarily pulling Wright out of the last debacle that he was involved in, he once again strays away from his muse Kiera Knightly, and directs a decent film. It’s very much the period piece that he likes to stick to. But even in the film’s interesting narrative, Wright does nothing that differs from his previous films.
Darkest Hour is a decent film that may or may not, be enjoyed in the cinemas. For all its grandiose storytelling, Darkest Hour falls short of my expectations. In no way was this a bad film, but it’s a film that should not be taken lightly. A serious dramatic film that has all the makings of an “Oscar hype” type of film, it’s worth seeing at least once in your lifetime.
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Lily James