Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars
Bottom Line: An interesting look into the first month of Winston Churchill’s ascent to Prime Minister. Loses some steam at the end.
I approached the viewing of “Darkest Hour” with trepidation. Winston Churchill is one of those mythic figures for which retold history has raised in status well higher than factual history would ever have let him climb. Reality is that Churchill was a massive asshole who just happened to become Prime Minister when World War II broke out. His accomplishments were real, but in the end he was just a guy who really liked war and being in charge during a time when it was actually beneficial to have a person in charge who really liked war. That’s why i was pretty happy when the movie did kind of portray him as the asshole he was.
“Darkest Hour” portrays Winston Churchill’s (Gary Oldman) rise to Prime Minister near the beginning of World War II and follows his first month up to his iconic “We shall fight on the beaches speech”. It takes a few liberties with reality, mostly with Nevil Chamberlain being a bit more back-stabby than he actually was, and with Churchill’s completely made up train ride. Oldman gets Churchill just right. Larger than life in both physique and personality, Churchill dominated every room and Oldman captures that perfectly. I’m sure he’ll win some awards because well portayed historical figures are complete Oscar bait.
My one complaint about the movie is that there is a bit of a slow down in the pace of the movie near the end. Churchill is tired and being bombarded with bad news from all fronts and the movie attempts to portray that, but does so just a little too much. Then there’s the aforementioned made up train ride. It’s one of those things that makes for easy feel-goodedness, but is completely hollow.
All in all, this is a pretty good movie as far as historically semi-fictional movies go and very much worth seeing. If you are unfamiliar with Churchill, it’s a decent enough introduction. Just don’t take it for gospel.