Darkest Hour

Director: Joe Wright

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane, Samuel West, Ronald Pickup

Words – Christian Abbott

This is exactly the type of movie you’d expect to see this time of year. It boasts a talented director: Joe Wright, an excellent cast and a narrative of historical significance. Essentially, Darkest Hour is this year’s The King’s Speech only without the engaging and thought provoking plot.

Starting during the first months of World War II, the UK has lost confidence in their Prime Minister – Neville Chamberlain. Without the support of the party or the vote of the people, Winston Churchill must lead the country through the strife of impending attack and the perils of fighting for survival against the political establishment.
Joe Wright has directed this as tamely and safely as possible. There are no cutting insights into the man, Churchill himself, nor is there a new or intriguing angle to take this well-known tale. Instead it feels as though he directed this with a checklist of dos and don’ts. It’s a boring watch as we stodge through all the tropes and trails of this familiar story. The real shame here is that it should instil a sense of pride as we watch, ‘best of British’, but all that is felt is the heavy eyelids.

That isn’t to say the film is without merit. The performances are outstanding all-round, particularly Gary Oldman in the lead as Churchill. Oldman is completely transformed into this performance and not simply through makeup, but through subtle character ticks and quirks – rightfully so that the praise surrounding this film is almost entirely around his performance. Cinematography is serviceable, as is everything else.
That is the true fault of this film, because it isn’t bad, it isn’t great, it’s just fine.