DARKEST HOUR (PG)
D: Joe Wright
Universal/Focus Features/Working Title/Perfect World (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten & Douglas Urbanski)
UK 🇬🇧 2017
W: Anthony McCarten
DP: Bruno Delbonnel
Ed: Valerio Bonelli
Mus: Dario Marianelli
PD: Sarah Greenwood
Cos: Jacqueline Durran
Gary Oldman (Winston Churchill), Ben Mendelsohn (King George VI); Kristen Scott-Thomas (Clementine Churchill), Lily James (Elizabeth Layton), Ronald Pickup (Neville Chamberlain), Stephen Dillane (Lord Halifax)
Gary Oldman truly delivers a convicting performance in this wartime biopic of former prime minister Winston Churchill focusing on the early days of his premiership as Britain were drawn closer and closer to the conflict of World War II.
Looking at wartime events solely from the corridors of power within British parliament the film does get bogged down with a lot of talky scenes and much feels like a dramatic reconstruction of real-life events, all leading up to Churchill's iconic wartime address.
However, with Gary Oldman filling the shoes of the politician with the aid of some excellent prosthetic makeup, his magnetic performance does keep you engaged throughout the duration of the film.
I've always considered Joe Wright an Oscar-bait director, his previous credits including Atonement and The Soloist, and my opinion hasn't changed following the viewing of this. Some scenes feel very stagey, whilst one scene in particular, when Churchill boards a London Underground train to canvas opinion from the public when he fears he's lost the support of his peers, feels very forced and nowhere near as convincing as it could have been.
Aside from Oldman, the rest of the performances are fine, but Kristen Scott-Thomas is very underused as his wife Clementine, with only a handful of scenes for her to get her acting chops into.
Anyone who's left school probably won't take any knowledge away from the picture that they don't already know and most people still in their teenage years are unlikely to be captivated by the material and the way it's presented, so the film kind of falls between two stools.
It is a film produced solely to win film awards and that's exactly what it did.