Monday, October 19, 2020

Darkest Hour: Britain’s Darkest Hour is Oldman’s Finest Hour

REEL REVIEWS

 

 

“Darkest Hour” takes place in Great Britain at the beginning of May 1940. After being declared unfit to protect the national security of England, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) steps down, and in his place, elects Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) as his replacement. With the help of his new secretary, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), and encouragement from his wife Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas), Churchill settles into his new position. Unfortunately, with war looming over the horizon from the Nazi threat, Churchill is placed in an arduous situation as various countries across Europe fall under fascist tyranny.

Despite his best efforts, the war does not look favorable for England as British forces are pushed back from the shores of France. To make matters even worse, Churchill’s own cabinet is showing distrust in him as Neville Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) plot to remove Churchill from office. And when word reaches that Paris is doomed to fall under Nazi Germany, Churchill finds himself facing the disturbing decision of continuing his deteriorating campaign, or negotiate a peace agreement with the foul tyrant in Germany.

 

 

“Darkest Hour” is a movie every fan of dramatic biographies is going to love. While Winston Churchill is the main focus, the overall timeline of the film only follows his story in the year 1940 between the months of May and June. It’s about Churchill’s struggle to lead his country through one of the most treacherous events in world history, and the movie does a grand job in setting the mood. Even though anyone with basic knowledge of history well knows how events play out when it comes to Great Britain and WWII, “Darkest Hour” drops you into a time period where the future was uncertain for everyone. As far as England and Churchill were concerned, they were on their own, and facing a losing battle against an unhinged tyrant who possessed an army that even the Romans would have envied.

As for Winston Churchill himself, the man is brought to life through the acting talents of Gary Oldman. Though, I must also give credit to the makeup artists responsible for bringing Churchill’s likeness to life as well. By the time he enters the scene, I forgot I was watching an actor play a historical figure, and thought I was watching Winston Churchill himself on screen. If there’s any actor in Hollywood that has interesting range, it’s Gary Oldman. I’ve seen the man portray a cop, a disfigured psychopath, a spider-monster, a dictator, and even Dracula, but I think the role of Winston Churchill was a role he was made to play.

“Darkest Hour” is rated PG-13 for some thematic material. Despite the rating, there’s little to no action in this WWII film. While the film does not shy away from imagery of war-torn lands along with injured soldiers and refugees, the main overall focus of the movie is Churchill trying to lead England’s people through their darkest period, while trying to convince his cabinet their only course of action is either victory or defeat without surrender. This is a mustsee for everyone out there who admires and respects Winston Churchill. From his actions, to his famous speeches, the film does a phenomenal job in retelling them. Which is why the final score for “Darkest Hour” is an 8 out of 10.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.

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