Review: Darkest Hour

Never surrender

Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is selected as Prime Minister of England during the worst possible time. This is during WWII, and Churchill must decide whether to negotiate with the enemy or continue to fight.

I have been dragging my feet to see this. I like to see all the Best Picture nominees, but this one never looked that exciting to me. I double featured this with I, Tonya. So I was in an upbeat mood going in, hoping for the film to prove my judgement wrong.....but alas, this movie was just as dull as I expected.

This film is essentially a bunch of old men arguing, with Lily James thrown in just for something different. She's our avatar for this story, she's the only one that stands out amongst the crowd. I appreciate the effort. This story, while important to history was always going to be an uphill battle. Director Joe Wright tries to throw us a few bones of humor but none of them work. It's still just boring. 

I already saw a better World War II movie this year in Dunkirk. I already saw a better Churchill performance by John Lithgow in The Crown. It makes everything feel unnecessary. And that brings me to Gary Oldman. He gets Churchill's mannerisms  and voice down perfectly, but he's underneath so much makeup that you can't see him emote. This baffles me a bit. I kept thinking of Andy Serkis in War for the Planet of the Apes. Even though his face is covered by CGI to be an ape, I still saw the emotions in Caesar's eyes. I saw Andy's eyes and expressions there too. I didn't see any of that with Oldman. He didn't make me feel anything like Serkis, or even like another actor playing a real person - James Franco in The Disaster Artist. This film is being sold on Gary Oldman's performance and he might as well be a voice actor because that's the strongest part. Otherwise it's like he's being consumed by the fat suit they have around him.

It's not a total loss, this film is shot beautifully. The cinematography is wonderful. There's a particular scene with an airplane in a hanger that is still very fresh in my mind. Joe Wright is still a wonderful director (we can pretend Pan never happened) and there were a lot of shots here that reminded me of my favorite film of his, Atonement. But it's not enough to save it. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "It means up your bum." - Elizabeth Layton (Lily James)

14 comments:

  1. I bet I will love this film..hahahaaa. I love history and, at that time, there were only old coots in power. I love Gary Oldman and feel he should have been n9minated for Dracula and Imortal Beloved. I was not enamoured at all with Dunkirk and laughed when I saw all the shiny new buildings in the background never mind the supremely irritating music. I will have an issue to see I, Tonya as I remember the incident so well and found Tonya Harding manipulative and a skank. I can see how my personal feeling may hurt the film for me.

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  2. I feel the same about WWII and Churchill for now, bc of Dunkirk and The Crown.

    When I saw the trailer I wondered how many more fucking times do I need to hear the "we will fight on the beaches" speech. We've seen it so many times, it is loosing all its power.

    Still, I'll watch this before the Oscars because I also like to be informed... that way I can bash it with authority. 😂

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    1. Right? People just don't understand why we *need* to see Best Pic noms, even if we don't want to watch them.

      Now I want to watch The Crown again.

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  3. I do like Gary Oldman but I don't know if I want to see it. I've seen bits of Pan and.... that was fucking awful. I think if Oldman wins, it's really for career achievement. I'm a history buff as well but I don't have interest in seeing this. Especially after Dunkirk which was a great film.

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    1. I hate career Oscars when they win them for performances that don't deserve it..urrghh

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  4. Haven't seen this one yet. I do want to see it for Oldman's performance, but now I'm a bit less excited for it.

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  5. Yeah, hate to say I told you so! I just feel like if I wanted to watch a movie about this period in time, I'd see Dunkirk a million times instead.

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  6. I think the only reason I would see this in the theater is I'd probably fall asleep otherwise.

    Thanks for the heads up, Brittani.

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    1. There's no way I could've watched this at home. I would've either been glued to my phone or got up and walked away.

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  7. I kind of refuse to see this and your review proves my point, it's mostly Oldman that is selling this film and his performance doesn't seem award worthy.

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    1. That's a good choice, because this film is such a bore. Oldman isn't even that good in it. I was way too generous with the rating I gave it.

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