Darkest Hour – Movie Review – An excellent performance, surrounded by a flawed narrative.

Darkest Hour tells the story of the early days of World War II, when the fate of Western-Europe relied upon the newly appointed British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, as he is faced with the decision of negotiating with Hitler, or to fight on against insurmountable odds.

This film is led by an outstanding performance from Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. He literally transforms into this role and major praise has to go to the make up team, for their incredible prosthetics work. There was no point during the film where my attention was drawn to the fact, that Gary was underneath so much make up. It looked completely real. Gary showcases a number of different sides to Churchill which was refreshing to see, it wasn’t a one note performance at all. We see Churchill at his most passionate, giving his famous speeches that you would expect. We also see the more vulnerable side to him, where self doubt starts to plague his mind when he attempts to make these important decisions. Gary’s voice work is tremendous, it’s very powerful during certain scenes when he is really trying to get his point across in a passionate manner, and at other times it still feels faithful to how Churchill sounded, whilst still carrying a hint of Oldman’s natural tone.

Lily James was great as Elizabeth Nel, Churchill’s personal secretary. She is essentially the audiences eyes in the film as we are somewhat introduced to it from her perspective. Ben Mendelsohn stood out to me, his portrayal of King George VI is the most absorbing performance in the film, aside from Gary’s and it’s the scenes they share together that really shine.

Now as I’ve made very clear Gary Oldman’s performance is a stellar one, but it deserves to be a part of a better, more coherent film. To tell the truth I found this film to be boring. There are a handful of good dialogue sequences that held my attention and were well written. That’s when the film is at it’s best due to the back and forth nature of the discussions, and because of the performances that are given. Despite that almost everything else left me feeling unengaged with what was occurring. A story like this should be captivating, but this simply wasn’t. The narrative and how it was told felt flat and I just couldn’t get into it.

I thought Joe Wright’s direction was pretty standard. It didn’t provide me with much to remember the film by in terms of how it was helmed, other than how he showcased time and the days which had passed, and how quick all these events were happening. I found the pace to be all over the place as well. There were a few scenes that felt like they were building a bit of momentum, and they were then let down by the scenes that followed afterwards that slowed the momentum right down.

Overall Darkest Hour left me feeling unengaged and bored. I’m on the opposite end of the critical consensus with one. Aside from Gary Oldman’s central performance, the film just failed to keep me entertained.


(2 Stars Out of 5)

– T.Graham.

Darkest Hour – Starring Gary Oldman, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ronald Pickup.

-Directed by Joe Wright.

-Now showing in U.K. cinemas.

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