Country: United States
Category: Biography, Drama, History
Release Date: 27 November, 2017
Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Lily James, Gary Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn
Age Restriction: 18 years
Duration: 125 minutes
Box Office: $?
"Darkest Hour" Conveniently arriving in the wake of one of the biggest and best-received films of the year, Dunkirk, Darkest Hour shows what was simultaneously going on in the halls of power on the other side of the Channel while Britain’s armed forces were on the verge of being wiped out in May 1940.
Recovering from the fiasco that was Pan, director Joe Wright has made a snappy and straightforward crowd-pleaser that focuses on new Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s mighty efforts to rise to the occasion of rescuing his country from the appeasers and defeatists in Parliament and stirring the public to defiance of Adolf Hitler. Subtle and nuanced the film is not, but Gary Oldman’s robust performance will help put it over as a solid performer upon its Nov. 22 release.
#4 A great release date: November 27, 2017
The public appetite for all things Churchillian has certainly been increased of late due to the great success of Netflix’s series The Crown and John Lithgow’s vastly entertaining performance as the significantly older Sir Winston in his waning years of power.
The far more slim and slight Gary Oldman is certainly not the first person one would think of to cast in the role, but he throws himself into the part with vigor and enthusiasm and you have to hand it to an actor who can convincingly play both Sid Vicious and, with the assistance of some pretty wondrous prosthetic makeup, Winston Churchill in the course of his career.
The screenplay by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) covers the weeks between Churchill’s ascension to leadership in the wake of previous Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy of Hitler to Churchill’s celebrated “We shall fight!” speech in Parliament that roused the public to the imperatives of national defense against fascism.
Although the film is obliged to stick close to the historical record in telling this world-turning story, it’s clear from the outset that the writer, director and actor intend to inject as much amusement value into the piece as possible; they first show a cranky Churchill in bed breakfasting on whiskey, eggs, a cigar and champagne and inadvertently exposing his nether-regions beneath his bed shirt to his nervous new secretary, Elizabeth (Lily James).
Whereas The Crown has been acute, subtle, nuanced and satisfyingly insider-ish in its presentation of the private doings of Britain’s ruling elite, Darkest Hour paints with a broader brush as it reveals a ruling hierarchy dominated by appeasers — including not only Chamberlain but the darkly motivated Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) and the Churchill-disdaining King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn).