Darkest Hour


Director Joe Wright

A sterling cast headed by Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in what will no doubt be a strong best actor nomination across awards season, and deservedly so for it is quite a masterful performance. Mr. Wright acquits himself well, bringing a strong hand and a fine pace (along with editor Valerio Bonelli) while maintaining the right emotional tone throughout.

There is a great sense of arc to the story and of being there in that time and place, thanks to the strong visual style of Production Designer Sarah Greenwood and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel. Use of the overhead shot repeatedly in the film is a striking motif, if a bit overused. Dario Marianelli’s score is also quite fitting.

It’s always a challenge to make these kind of historical stories come to life and be more than the sum of their parts. Mr. Wright succeeds for the most part, yet when I compare it to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, it feels as if it falls short of achieving the cinematic richness of that film. Certainly these films took different approaches to the material, and the comparison may be unfair, but the former seemed much more in line with a long list of historical stories, and the latter felt like a much fresher approach.

I look forward to future double feature screenings, although I can’t decide which would play first. I suppose it would have to be Darkest Hour, since it would be a bit of a let down if it followed Dunkirk. Perhaps I’ll try that experiment both ways and see. But Darkest Hour is a very good film with a great performance at its heart, and a strong Should See.