Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Darkest Hour: Blu Ray Review

Darkest Hour: Blu Ray Review


Treading thematically similar territory as last year's Brian Cox-led Churchill, Darkest Hour sees Gary Oldman covered in liver spots and thrust into the political shenanigans and pressures of England's Darkest Hour in May 1940 during the second World War.
Darkest Hour: Film Review

More inclined to seethe when it should roar, Joe "Atonement" Wright's film is more about visuals and framing of imagery than anything deeper within as the Anthony McCarten penned thriller follows Churchill as others swirl around him, unsure that their new leader could either negotiate a peace or deal with what's next.

Settling into a routine of plenty of scenes of old white men debating and discussing with a side of shouting thrown in for free, most of Darkest Hour is more about the machinations within the halls of power (but less of the West Wing snippy dialogue) than the human element.

It's hinted at in a few scenes here and there, but Wright and McCarten aren't as interested in pursuing that side of things.

Darkest Hour: Film Review

Lily James' typist is troubled by the war for her brother, a woefully underused Scott Thomas' Clem worries her husband Winston isn't well enough for the job and concerns herself with money woes and one early scene with the children hint at the personal cost for Churchill's family, but it's slim pickings.

Central to all of this is Oldman's searing turn as Winston. With hints of vulnerability occasionally conveyed through the eyes and with thunderous emotion behind his speeches here and there, Oldman's immersed himself into the role and is all the better for it.

Equally as impressive is Mendelsohn as the stuttering King. Wisely underplaying, the Aussie's take on things is compelling, quiet and unassuming - and makes for great viewing.

Darkest Hour works best when it concentrates on him, but fails and falters when it casts the net wider.

Chiefly, a fanciful sequence on London's tube feels like something out of a propaganda piece and feels at odds with what's gone on - though is remedy for Winston's dark teatime of the soul.

Darkest Hour: Film Review

In among all of Darkest Hour though are some wonderfully framed shots, some breathtakingly executed moments - including a whole room being soaked in red when Churchill delivers his first radio address and the 'Mic Live' bulb kicks in. It's here that Wright really grabs you and conveys the emotional heft which is needed.

With Nolan's Dunkirk being the perfect dessert to Darkest Hour's main meal, it's fair to see why Oldman is garnered some awards buzz for the role - he thunders when it's needed, but unfortunately the rest of the film feels lacking in his wake.

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