Darkest Hour is the second Churchill biopic in two years following Brian Cox's Churchill - released quietly in the pre-summer film cluster last year. In contrast, Oscar season is coming and Darkest Hour has been appointed an academy favourite. Gary Oldman stars as Winston himself and Darkest Hour tells the story of how the newly appointed Prime Minister is challenged to negotiate or fight with Hitler as our troops are pushed towards the Dunkirk beaches.
Darkest Hour certainly delivers an important story, however it's one we've heard too many times in the recent past. There is no doubt director Joe Wright tries to reward the us with a Spielberg Lincoln type equivalent, but disappointingly ends up delivering something a little more pretentious, and unsatisfying. Perhaps Darkest Hour wouldn't feel so dull if it wasn't following straight on from last year's war time offerings Their Finest, Dunkirk and (the other) Churchill.
The film sets out to hit us with artsy visuals from the start, but these can't distract from its loose narrative. They certainly look stunning at times but ultimately Darkest Hour believes it’s doing far more than it actually is. It's frustrating - Darkest Hour has all of the material to create something truly gripping - yet doesn't.
Negatives aside, Oldman's portrayal of Churchill is rather spellbinding. His transforming performance - quite literally in the make up department - is most probably the primary reason Darkest Hour has gained so much attention, and one wonders where the film would be with a different male lead.
Darkest Hour is inoffensive and perfectly watchable but lacks the fire you expect. That said, Oldman deserves every ounce of praise for his undeniably mesmerising portal of one of Britain's most iconic figures. These films are made with original intent, however Darkest Hour feels like yet another addition tagged on to the ever expanding war time period collection. Whilst I'm certain the PG certificate is bait for the younger generation - Darkest Hour is ultimately a cozy, Sunday afternoon catch up on the telly - nothing wrong with that, but sadly that's all there is to it.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.