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