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REVIEW — “Darkest Hour”

It’s been a record year for stories about Winston Churchill and movies centering around the harrowing battle at Dunkirk. Yet 2017 is not done with early 19th century Britain. Darkest Hour is the latest project coming from director Joe Wright, detailing the story of Churchill’s first endeavors to become Prime Minister. Darkest Hour starts off showcasing the complete unrest among the politicians in Parliament due to the impending doom known as the Nazis. Neville Chamberlain is out as Prime Minister, and a great leader is needed to fill his shoes. Churchill is nominated to take the role, despite much reluctance amongst his peers. He enters the role of the United Kingdom’s political leader fighting an uphill battle, and it seems like all hope is lost. Britain is losing the war and facing an imminent attack on it’s own shores. Now Churchill faces negotiating with the nefarious enemy, or come up with a strategy to pull Britain up by it’s boot straps.

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Do I think Darkest Hour is a great movie? No. Do I think it’s a bad one? Nope. In truth, it’s really bogged down by some terrible pacing. The film starts out interesting, great camera work and really cool staging. Then as the film moves forward it starts to really drag. Darkest Hour seemed to focus too hard on trying to make you forget that you already may know the outcome. A lot of the runtime was dedicated to really showing you how screwed Churchill is, and in the end, it became terribly repetitive. Towards the end when things started to look up, the pacing did pick up a little bit more but not enough to regain my attention. Although the argument can be made that it’s a true story and these are the real events, I can’t help but think the movie could have used a bit more tweaking in terms of the script and/or direction.

4106_D023_00001_R_CROPLily James stars as Elizabeth Layton and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright's DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release.Credit:  Jack English / Focus Features

The selling point of this film is certainly Gary Oldman’s turn as the esteemed Prime Minister. All the acclaim he’s received is well deserved. Oldman does a dazzling job making Churchill come to life, and a lot of credit can be given to the awesome work done by the makeup department. Makeup aside, the acting done by Oldman is very focused and believable, his excellent performance makes you forget he’s Gary Oldman and he convinces the audience he is Winston Churchill. The cinematography is very well done. A lot of the shots were obviously very well thought out and a lot of them were very stylized yet well executed. The score was very fun as well, it did do a great job complementing each scene and making it a bit more interesting. 

4106_D025_00081_R2_CROP Kristin Scott Thomas and Gary Oldman star as Clementine and Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright's DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release. Credit:  Jack English / Focus Features

I think the deciding factor on whether or not you will like Darkest Hour is your overall interest in it before walking into the theater. The subject matter is interesting, but the film itself is not. Overall, Darkest Hour is an alright drama (and in some parts a better comedy) with some really awesome features, but not the feature itself. 3/5

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