Review: Darkest Hour

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Award season returns! What deserves the title of “Oscar bait” more than a biopic of one of the most influential British leaders in history? As with any film of this genre many creative liberties are taken, but this results in adding drama and humour to a dark period of many challenges.  Personally, I do not mind this, as long as the actions and events do not go against what the people portrayed stood for (this film gets dangerously close to that when Churchill shakes the hand of Marcus Peters).

Of course, no biopic is complete without an A-list actor starring. Here we have the incredible Gary Oldman in a performance that puts his other roles to shame. While many say Oldman should have won an Academy Award by now, I am not sure with which role they mean, but here he shows why he will be remembered as one of the greatest British actors of his generation.

A laudable effort was made to create an authentic 1940s London, an effort that really compliments the rest of the film

The writing of this film must be lauded, for even if the dialogue is what Churchill may have said, it throws out quotes to rival his originals. The line from the trailer “you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth” was a highlight for me. Certain scenes stood out for their writing: meetings with the war cabinet, the tube scene and meetings between the Prime Minister and the King.

The writing contains certain subtleties that make this a truly excellent film: one example is of cabinet ministers accusing Churchill of only looking out for himself yet being shown to be the ones looking out for their own interests, while Churchill is shown to be on the side of the people.

I did chuckle at an advert for this film on the side of a bus with the large quote “this must be seen” on the advert with no sourcing of the quote. For all I knew, it could have been Gary Oldman’s mum saying it. The joke is on me, for if that poster were to come out after this review, it could just been me saying it. This film must be seen because of its messages of perseverance and how to combat evil. It is a commentary on individuals giving in to evil when it seems to benefit them, combatted with the defiance of other individuals to never give in.

Possibly my favourite scene in the film, even though it takes many creative liberties

It was once said that the world will not be destroyed by evil, but by those who did nothing to prevent it when they could. This quote is one that kept floating in my head during this film, as I was shocked by how easily those around Churchill were willing to giving up on fighting and to negotiate with Hitler. This film’s message is backed up by incredible filmmaking, creative camerawork and cinematography throughout. If there would be one area that one may criticise, it would be the supporting characters who never seemed to have much of an arc to their character, whilst the film is firmly focused on the struggles of its main character.