(This review may contain light spoilers)
It’s been over a week since I posted my last entry, and I apologize for the delay. My week has been really crowded with projects and work to be done, but now that it’s over I can finally relax and turn to writing in my blog. In fact, I was able to catch a movie on the big screen last night with a friend of mine. I had not known what the movie was about when first invited, thinking it was a typical blockbuster disaster film before I saw the trailer. Boy, was I pumped to find out it was a War Drama about Winston Churchill! I left the theater deeply moved by the movie’s beautiful cinematography, well-crafted, well-executed screenplay and a spectacular, superlative performance by Gary Oldman.
The film, fittingly named “Darkest Hour”, depicts the behind the scenes goings-on within the British Parliament against the backdrop of Hitler’s invasion of Europe. The majority of Parliament does not believe that England’s the Prime Minister of the time, Neville Chamberlain, is capable of leading Britain and dealing with the looming threat of an invasion against the Axis powers, consisting mainly of Germany and Italy in this movie. Thus, as Parliament searches for a successor, Winston Churchill, a disgraced Member of Parliament, is instated as Prime Minister of Britain, to much contention. The central conflict in this movie is that of the question of capitulation and negotiations versus resistance and sacrifice. Churchill’s final conclusion, after wrestling with the issue himself, was characteristically Churchillian and formed the words of one of the greatest orations of all time: “We shall not be content with a divisive war… We shall go on to the end… We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches… We shall never surrender.” Facing seemingly insurmountable odds, Churchill makes difficult decisions and uses novel tactics in order to save the men of the British forces trapped by the Axis powers, and mobilizes England against them.
One cannot speak of Darkest Hour without mentioning Gary Oldman’s brilliantly subtle (and not-so-subtle) performance as Sir Winston Churchill. Gary Oldman has been nominated for and awarded Best Actor for three different awards thus far, and whether he deserves it is unquestionable. He injects Churchill with such astounding charisma and blood-pumping conviction, that beyond prosthetics and special effects, he completely disappears into the brutally sharp-witted, fervidly driven and endlessly cunning bootstraps of the historic figure. Having previously read of Churchill’s magnetic, larger-than-life personality and controversial figure in multiple biographies, Mr. Oldman has brought the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the former Prime Minister to life with a proficiency I hadn’t anticipated, very much surpassing the standards of his previous work in the process. Oldman’s Churchill goes from a whisper to a shout, self-assuredness to doubt, unlikability to magnetism in seconds, and is utterly convincing in his stunning ability to rouse cabinets of parliamentary figures and people on the streets to action. In the words of Churchill’s rival, Viscount Halifax, “He mobilized the English Language, and sent it into battle.”
Offering a gripping look at the iconic personality, his relationships with his family, colleagues and the people around him, and the trials he had to deal with in his early days as Prime Minister, Darkest Hour is an exceptional film that is worth seeing, not merely as an action film, but as a glimpse at the hands moving the pieces behind the curtain. It ties well into another recent war film, Dunkirk, the events of which were mentioned as a crucial plot point in the movie.
In conclusion, I must say that it is a most marvelous feeling to return home at midnight after experiencing the fantastic rush of feverishness which only comes out of watching an amazing movie. Out of 10 stars, I would give it an 8.5. Do check it out soon, alone, with friends, or with family members (if they are old enough to handle the length, loud noises and a few frightening images). I very much hope Gary Oldman wins an Oscar!
*By the by, I am very grateful for the likes I received on my last post. It feels good to know that people enjoyed what I wrote, and I appreciate it immensely. Thank you, Dear Reader! Fred Zebra, out.
Darkest hour stars Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn and others. During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds. PG-13.