Darkest Hour UK, USA 2018 – 125min.
With Nazi forces crossing Western Europe and threatening an invasion, the British people are seemingly caught off-guard, the king is skeptical, and his party is conspiring against him: Winston Churchill faces his darkest hour as he rallies together a whole nation and tries to change the course of history.
Winston Churchill continues to be the subject of feature films, whether in 1972’s Young Winston by Richard Attenborough or more recently in The Crown's first season and the mid-2017 biographical film called, of course, Churchill. English director Joe Wright therefore had his work cut out for him when he decided to tackle a character that had already been dealt with dozens of times... and he rose to the challenge wonderfully.
Wright has already proven his talent with his previous films, including Atonement. In Darkest Hour, he confirms his intelligence and knack for filming compact settings. All of his shots are very inspired and channeled by Bruno Delbonnel’s fascinating, misty photography. The Prime Minister's radio speech, illuminated by the studio’s red light, is the esthetic highlight of the feature film. But despite Wright's excellent direction, Darkest Hour has a few shortcomings. During its two hours, the movie sometimes suffers from incidental scenes (especially the one in the underground) and its overly talkative narrative. This is detrimental to the rhythm, which negatively affects the power of the story. Thankfully, these scriptwriting errors are saved by Gary Oldman’s exceptional performance. The actor has undoubtedly already delivered one of the best performances of the year.