With two Churchill films within a matter of months of each other, it gave movie goers a chance to appreciate an accurate depiction of one of Britain’s greatest heroes. Gary Oldman trounces Brain Cox’s depiction of the portly politician and rightly so, Darkest Hour is a magnificent piece of art.
Never before has the great war-time leader been portrayed so perfectly. Everything from his mannerisms, to his accent and of course that look – amazing facial prosthetics used here. It looks stupidly accurate, so much so you think the man himself is making these grand speeches. But it’s not just Churchill – Clement Attlee, Anthony Eden, Lord Halifax, Neville Chamberlain and so many more war-time politicians are effortlessly shown off in this film. Each depicting their persona with speech accuracy to the point you think you’re watching a live show. There were some very minor times where you can hear that Gary Oldman twang to his voice when it is raised, but this was very minor and only really appears when you look for it.
Darkest Hour works not for world war action but simple character drama, with the premise of a raging war in the background. You do see one bombing raid which is one the Calais based brigade, but that’s only there to emphasise the cost of human loss and highlight how terrifying Churchill’s decisions are. By having compelling real life characters like Mr. Churchill, it allows the film to succeed without having to create an interesting character, because he is already there.
Even though you know that the flotilla will get through and rescue most of the stranded troops, and that ultimately Britain wins the war, you can’t help but feel tense by the impending personal implosion of our lead. This film is a tense rollercoaster ride that takes more dips and twists than Churchill smokes cigars. You see a side to this great man you never thought you saw. Everyone thinks that he walked into office and turned the tide alone. But such a daunting task pushed him to beg for help, something you really didn’t think he would do.
Darkest Hour does share some similarities to the 2004 international film of the year Der Untergang (Downfall). There we see Hitler’s last days through the last days of his secretary, conversely, we see Churchill’s first few days in office through the eyes of his secretary. Both are character driven epics about World War II figures, with emphatic performances by the historical leader. Darkest Hour however, is more stylistic in terms of the overall product – which really makes it a better overall product.
It was also enjoyable to see Stannis Baratheon himself, Stephen Dillane, take Churchill head on as the irritating Lord Halifax. The overall cast is brilliant, but Gary Oldman really does shine above all the rest – An award surely must come his way after this performance.
Would I recommend this film? Yes – If you see any World War II related film, or just anything that has powerfully played characters that engage and enthral you, I suggest you go see this historical epic.