Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

Darkest Hour is about the very early days of Winston Churchill’s tenure as Prime Minister.  He’s not a very popular pick and everyone in his party seems to hate him.  They want to try and make some sort of peace treaty with Adolf Hitler to avoid a war.  Churchill sees Hitler for the tyrant he is and wants to do everything in his power to take on the despot.

It’s history, right?  I mean we all know the story.  Britain entered the war.  They got the crap beat out of them.  They fought back.  The Yanks came in.  And we all eventually defeated the Axis.

I’m going to say that Darkest Hour has a very interesting story.  Churchill was a very great man but one that was always extremely unpopular even in his success.  He really reminds me of General George Patton in that way.  Both men needed to get shit done even if it meant making the truly tough decisions.

The film is directed by Joe Wright.  Up until recently I’ve never seen one of his films.  I only just saw Atonement a week or so ago because I wanted to see Saoirse Ronan’s performance.  Her performance was outstanding.  The movie itself?  Kinda bullshit.  Was sort of drawn in but thought the ending was total crap.  It was based on a book so I’m sure the book’s ending was complete bullshit too.  Not my cup of tea though I thought the cast was superb.

Darkest Hour has an amazing supporting cast.  Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, and (THE SUPER AWESOME) Ben Mendelsohn star as Churchill’s secretary, Churchill’s wife, and King George VI respectively.  All three were superb in their roles with Mendelsohn truly a standout as a king trying to decide if he should run from the incoming menace or show some strength (and backbone) for his people.

But there is truly only one reason to see this film and that reason is enough to see it a hundred times.  That is Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.  Except it is not Gary Oldman.  I mean the poster says “Gary Oldman”.  The credits say “Gary Oldman.”  But you can’t see Gary Oldman in the performance.  The man is not there.  He’s not.  You are looking at Winston Churchill.  It is beyond a transformation.  It isn’t just makeup.  It isn’t just trying to imitate someone.  Gary Oldman is Churchill.  Oldman is completely unrecognizable in the role.  It’s like saying I starred in Seven Years in Tibet.  You see Brad Pitt….BUT IT REALLY WAS ME.  That’s how great Oldman is.

I decided to look at the past Academy Award winners for Best Actor going backwards to see if any one of the past winners even comes close to the performance Oldman gives.  I finally got to 1989 when Daniel Day Lewis won for his performance in My Left Foot.  I don’t think Lewis’ performance in My Left Foot is better than Oldman’s performance.  I just had to go back close to thirty years to find a comparable performance.  Going even further back in time I think the performance that truly matches up to Oldman’s performance in Darkest Hour is Ben Kingsley’s Academy Award winning role in 1982’s Gandhi.  The last performance to match Oldman’s performance, in my humble opinion, was 35 years ago.

So here is my review:  Darkest Hour tells the tale of a horrible time in British history when they found themselves on the brink of destruction.

Yup.  That’s it.  This is a story that has been told countless times.  The storytelling here is pretty great.  The supporting cast is great.  The direction is great.  The screenplay is great.

Gary Oldman gives, what can only be called, one of the greatest performances in cinematic history.  It is a true rarity.  It should be celebrated with every accolade and acclaim available.  He is stunning.  In this one role I got to witness film history because it is truly rare that someone is able to put so much passion and effort into their work and have the outcome be so positively breathtaking.

My advice is to go see the movie.  Straight away.  If not now, then soon.  Very soon.  Gary Oldman gives the best performance in decades.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

RATING: A+

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