Darkest Hour Review
by A. Athersmith
**** 4 Stars
‘It’s also a timely reminder that world leaders should pause, absorb, critique and question themselves before making any decisions that directly impacts their county.’
Director: Joe Wright
Actors: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn and Lily James.
Synopsis: The fate of Western Europe hangs on Winston Churchill in the early days of World War II. The newly appointed British prime minister must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or fight on against incredible odds. During the next four weeks in 1940, Churchill cements his legacy as his courageous decisions and leadership help change the course of world history.
In Darkest Hour, Wright captures a politically intense period in May 1940, the early stages of World War 2, where Oldman plays one of the most courageous, independent Prime Ministers Britain has ever seen. Not only does Oldman develop Churchill to be a funny, alcohol dependent character with victory driven ideas, he also shows Churchill’s power struggle. This is reflected through the foreign secretary, Viscount Halifax’s, political manoeuvres against him and the other politicians’ doubt and embarrassment at Churchill being Prime Minister. It is at times like this that the audience see Churchill flag and flounder, leaving them wondering whether he will succeed. As well as this being impressive evidence of Oldman’s dynamism and flexibility as an actor, it’s also a timely reminder that world leaders should pause, absorb, critique and question themselves before making any decisions that directly impacts their county.
Wright’s charged, blustery framework automatically pulls the audience into a distant political landscape. The film takes the audience into an unknown sector: the reality of working in Parliament. This eye opening commentary reveals the difficulties faced by all politicians and how no decision is made lightly. Through this Wright presents the physical and emotional distance Churchill placed between him and his family throughout his quest for political power, bringing an emotional side to the film suggesting the struggle for power can’t be faced alone by blocking out loved ones.
Overall, Darkest Hour is a highly intense film that has greatly highlighted the importance of Winston Churchill’s political reign during the beginning of the Second World War. Wright should be applauded for his incredible directing, especially the one remarkable motif, which sees Churchill repeatedly boxed in by literal ink-black darkness, whether in a void-ascending lift or framed by the leaded glass of a closed door.
Darkest Hour is currently available on Netflix and was rated PG by the BBFC.