DARKEST HOUR Review — Power Packed Yet Prolonged

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DARKEST HOUR Review

by Staci Layne Wilson
@StaciWilson

darkest hour reviewGary Oldman has believably played so many historical figures – everyone from Sid Vicious to Beethoven to Vlad the Impaler. Even when the characters aren’t based on real people, Oldman somehow brings them to life. But Winston Churchill…? Yep, he nails it!

Set during Churchill’s heyday in the thick of World War II, Darkest Hour is the anti-Dunkirk. It’s a chamber piece. Sans gunshots, battleships and explosions, there’s still plenty of fire power as the story shows the war waged behind closed doors. Churchill — a charming, blustering set of cigar-clenching jowls — has his task cut out for him when he assumes the Prime Minister post at the worst possible time.

Indeed, it’s the darkest hour. As members of his cabinet urge Churchill to negotiate a peace treaty in hopes the Nazis will play nice with Britain, he argues in favor of fighting as he works on an exit strategy for 300,000 allied troops at under siege at Dunkirk.

The glimpses into the larger-than-life historical figure’s interior world during all this toil and trouble are well-executed by screenwriter Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything). This is where we really get to see Oldman not only transform physically, but truly assume the mantle. The most enjoyable parts of the film are when the PM is brought to us through the eyes of the women in his life: His gently acerbic wife, Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas), his timed new secretary, Elizabeth (Lily James), both bring out the war-strategist’s softer side. As for his chubby side, kudos go to prosthetic makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji (Hellboy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Director Joe Wright (Atonement) elevates the story in a visually-appealing cinematic fashion, making it seem like more than just pontificating. But the spell doesn’t last long. It’s somewhat interesting to witness the events that led to one of the most famous speeches of the 20th century (“We shall fight on the beaches…”) but not 2 hours, 5-minutes worth of interesting.

PG-13
2 Hours 5 Minutes

Get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

DARKEST HOUR Review

by Staci Layne Wilson
@StaciWilson

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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on StaciLayneWilson.com

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