In his first two weeks as British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was plunged into the horrible depths of a sinking war effort, 400,000 soldiers surrounded in Dunkirk, and a party who placed him in the top job by force. It would go on to become the turning point of the second world war.
image via youtube
With Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain having lost the support of parliament a change to leadership needs to be made. It comes from an unpopular source. Winston Churchill (in a stirring performance by an unrecognisable Gary Oldman) is not loved amongst his own party, but he did identify the threat of Hitler and his Nazi party, giving them some faith in his wartime potential.
Even the King isn’t thrilled with the appointment. King George IV (Ben Mendelsohn) was clearly hoping Halifax would be Chamberlain’s successor, and shows his disapproval. Churchill’s choice to distort the realities of the crisis in France only upsets him further.
With Britain now facing the loss of 400,000 soldiers, a potential attack on British shores and with its hopes of ever overcoming the Nazi attack at their lowest, pressure to strike a peace deal is mounting. Churchill however is uninterested in negotiating with the monstrous force. Despite the chances of winning looking worse by the day, he refuses to even consider peace talks, causing Halifax and Chamberlain to plot against his leadership.
Churchill’s mettle is again tested when sacrificing his troops in Calais is the only option he has to slow the attack on his main forces in Dunkirk. It’s a heartbreaking choice, and one that is naturally unpopular. Through the incredible support of his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), the patience of his typist (Lily James) and eventually the backing of the King, he finds the strength to stand his ground.
Darkest Hour offers a powerful insight into one of the most vulnerable moments in WWII. With so much at stake, and against so much internal pressure, the hindsight the film offers is profound. While History will always be kind to the victors, here it shows how incredible this moment was and how precarious.
Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas are extraordinary in bringing to life two characters who history has covered numerous times. There’s obvious award season buzz and deservedly so.
Darkest Hour is a gripping historical exposition that offers a new line of insight into the incredible war time leadership Churchill gave under the most immense and uncertain pressures. It’s quite remarkable and a fantastic way to start the year’s films.
video via youtube
Director: Joe Wright
Stars: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn)
Runtime: 2hours 5mins
Release Date: 11 January
Reviewer Rating: 4/5