Where Darkest Hour shines is where it is most safe. Through fantastic performances, a solid script that builds one scene on top of another, and some lovely, energetic film-making from Joe Wright (Hanna, Atonement) and crew, Darkest Hour dodges most of the pitfalls of the genre (and its subject). What results is one of more likable biographical films of one of history’s “Great Men” of the past decade and a solid, respectable historical drama.
On paper Churchill, is the last man that anybody should ever want to handle the UK during war time and, on the other hand, his blundering, boisterous personality and steely stubbornness is actually exactly what the UK needed. Both of these things are true. He's a barking drunk and one of the great men in all of world history. Both of these things are true and the movie rings both of these truths for all that it is worth-- and rightfully points out that few people ever even manage to be either of those things.
German not being compulsory in school, we all know how the actual narrative ends. What Joe Wright and screenwriter Anthony McCarten do is they create a drama that isn't about whether Churchill will make the right decision (for once), but why he come to these conclusions. It's a long journey to that point, with the first half feeling like setting the scene more than telling the story. Darkest Hour plays like a classical piece of music with a slow beginning and ends with a powerful crescendo. As stuffy and as white as it is, by the end, it can't be described as being boring.
Kristin Scott Thomas turns out wonderully as Clementine Churchill, imbuing her role with more class and grace in the few scenes that she has in the picture. Like Gary Oldman, she's Kristen Scott Thomas. I'm not equipped to talk about what a fantastic actor she is. She just is. Just look at her.
Actually, you know what? Where's my Clementine Churchill movie? Get on that one, Hollywood.
Also: Shout out to my main man Ben Mendelsohn! We did it, Mendo! We feasting!
James Kislingbury is a writer, a podcaster, and would kill for five minutes alone with this Hitler guy. You can donate to his Patreon . You can buy the book he edited here (and on eBay). You can also follow him on Twitter. Also, if you well and truly give a shit hmu on my Paypal. Want to buy me a coffee? Get at my Ko-Fi. Happy new year!