Darkest Hour focuses on the early days of Winston Churchill's tenure as Prime Minister of the British Empire. As the German army pushed its way across Europe with devastating effect during World War 2, the British government was accused of being too weak. The then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, had lost the confidence of the people and Parliament. The country needed a decisive leader, but the actions taken from this new person would change the direction of the empire and the world.
On top of this, the whole of the British army had been pushed onto the beach at Dunkirk. Facing certain death, the pressure was on to begin peace talks with the fascist regime. But, Churchill could not lose sight of the greater good and refused to shake the hand of the devil. Instead, with the support of the King, Winston Churchill, through three famous inspiring speeches, changed the course of the world by mobilizing the English army and sending it into battle.
There have been many books, TV shows, and films about Winston Churchill. And lots of them have been excellent. However, what we have with Darkest Hour is a thoroughly detailed portrayal of the political tension during this specific period. Make no mistakes; this is a political drama first and foremost. Flashing the magnifying glass over the internal push and shove of Westminister and those seeking motives for self-preservation. Whilst there are fleeting flashes to the battlefront these are merely the backdrop to the decisions made by those in power during their Darkest Hour.
So, does Darkest Hour work as a piece of cinema? It touches close to perfection on many levels. In fact, even though the film is over two hours long, it leaves you craving more. The screenplay is perfectly balanced from Anthony McCarten, who also wrote The Theory of Everything. The cinematography from Bruno Delbonnel, who has contributed to films like Amelie is spectacular.
But piecing this all together is Director Joe Wright. There are a couple of moments that I felt let things down such as the very poor effects of the little boats heading across the channel to Dunkirk. But generally, Joe Wright does an outstanding job.
So, where there is a great script and good direction you would expect the acting to deliver also. Darkest Hour is without a doubt a showcase for some of the finest acting talents in the world. There is not one weak performance from the whole cast.
Gary Oldman is outstanding playing Winston Churchill and totally deserved to walk away with the plethora of awards that he received. Kristin Scott Thomas and Lilly James are both brilliant. As is Stephen Dillane as Viscount Halifax. But the person who does not get enough credit for his role is Ben Mendelsohn, who is incredible playing King George and even looks like him.
To conclude, Darkest Hour really is a masterpiece. There are many reasons for me to encourage you to watch this film. It's a historically sound story that we should all be aware of and deeply inspiring at the same time. But, most of all it is a very fine piece of cinema. Strongly recommended – just brilliant.