Darkest Hour: Film Review

I must admit that the subject matter of Darkest Hour didn’t particularly thrill me – we’ve seen quite a few portrayals of Winston Churchill recently and a film about the Dunkirk evacuation last year – but after Gary Oldman‘s Golden Globes win, I figured I should be probably check it out.

The film takes place with calls for Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) to resign – and Churchill seems like the only candidate that both parties will accept for the role of Prime Minister. Nazi Germany has already taken countries like Belgium and all the British troops are being pushed towards the beaches at Dunkirk. Churchill wants to take action and go on the offensive, while Lord Halifax (Stephen Dillane) and Chamberlain think peace talks are the answer and are considering pitching a vote of no confidence against him.

The film is largely men talking in rooms, arguing about the best way to win the war and I have to be honest, I found it very slow and dull and my mind kept wandering no matter how hard I tried to concentrate. The subject matter didn’t really excite me because I had seen it covered across The Crown, Dunkirk and Churchill, which did a better job of humanising Churchill and showing us his inner turmoil about the losses in Gallipoli and losing more lives during the war.

Oldman is obviously fantastic. It is hard to accept his prosthetic-heavy appearance at first but you get used to it. Churchill has been done many times and has well-known mannerisms, speech and delivery but he takes on the challenging task and makes it his own. It is impressive and his Churchill is surprisingly funny and he does a good job of carrying the film but he didn’t captivate me or stop the film feeling a tad dry and dull.

His isn’t the only impressive performance in the film – I actually connected and sympathised with Kristin Scott Thomas as his wife Clemmie and Lily James as his secretary Elizabeth Layton most. Ben Mendelsohn was also decent as King George VI but anyone who plays him will always pale in comparison to Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.

The film does pick up towards the end when the Dunkirk evacuation draws closer and Churchill begins to sway his fellow politicians. I started to really get into it and then it ends! It felt like we sat through two hours of preliminary chat and once stuff finally starts happening, the movie finishes. I was disappointed by that, but luckily the movie doesn’t feel two hours long.

I would recommend giving it a watch for the performances and if you haven’t seen any recent Churchill onscreen portrayals, but otherwise I would say it isn’t worth a pricey cinema ticket.

In cinemas now 

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