Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Samuel West, David Bamber.
Director: Joe Wright
Release date: 12th January 2018
It’s 9th May 1940, and Hitler has invaded Europe. British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) is hugely out of favour after his handling of Government matters, and is under pressure to resign from his post. He resigns the following day and the race is on to find his replacement. We meet Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) in his bed, puffing on a huge cigar. A telegram arrives from the Palace and he is summoned to a meeting with the then King, George VI (Ben Mendelsohn). Winston is offered the Prime Ministership and readily accepts the job. 13th May, he makes his first speech in Parliament but it becomes very obvious that Chamberlain holds a lot of distain towards the new PM. It’s not long before the events of the historic Dunkirk event unfold during the last week of May 1940, and Churchill is under intense pressure to enter into peace talks with the Germans, with Mussolini as mediator. Churchill must make decisions now that might and probably will decide the outcome of this World War. Can he get his Cabinet and Parliament on side or will he fall before the final hurdle?
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was one of Britain’s greatest ever leaders, who served as Prime Minister between 1940-1945 and then again from 1951-1955. His speeches on the radio did a lot for public morale during the Wartime years. He would go on to make what would be known as his ‘finest hours’ speech on June 18th 1940 and be a key player in the Victory for Europe battle against the Nazi’s.
There have been a few movies recently about the British War effort, ‘Churchill’ starring Brian Cox and also the blockbusting ‘Dunkirk’, both released to critical acclaim last year. ‘Dunkirk’ in particular seems to have raised a whole Generation’s interest in the War and what the British troops had to endure during that particularly dark part in Europe’s history.
The cast in ‘Darkest Hour’ is among the best you are likely to see. Gary Oldman in particular is time and time again named as one of the best actors of his Generation. The ‘London boy made good’ has graced our screens in many defining roles, including, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ as George Smiley, Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies and ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, to name but a few. As Churchill in this new movie, his performance will literally send chills down your spine. He is absolutely fantastic as the Wartime leader. His performance made me feel many different emotions during the movie, and I have to admit that his, ‘We shall fight them on the beaches…’ speech actually made me well up. Maybe it’s old age, but maybe also a little bit of pride in what those brave men went through to give us the freedom that we have today. Churchill was an extremely emotive speaker and I defy anyone not to feel something when listening to his speeches. I particularly loved the bit in the movie where Churchill ventures on to the London Underground. The rest of the cast, including the fantastic Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife, Clemmie and Lily James as his secretary, Elizabeth Layton are brilliant. The ensemble cast are as well. One really nice surprise was seeing one of my favourite actors, David Bamber as Admiral Ramsey. Always makes me smile when he pops up in a film.
If you enjoyed ‘Dunkirk’, like a bit of history or just want to be entertained while watching a movie, then do give ‘Darkest Hour’ a watch. It’s just a few minutes over the 2 hour mark but don’t let that deter you. Gary Oldman should definitely be nominated for some awards for his performance. The fact that it’s a true story should also encourage you to see it. Go watch it and see why people call Gary Oldman ‘one of the best actors of his Generation’.