Gary Oldman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of the past couple of decades, having given many iconic and diverse performances from Sid Vicious to George Smiley. Now he has delivered another career best performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, that explores an interesting and important time in British History.
Set in 1940 during Winston Churchill’s (Gary Oldman) first term as Prime Minister, where he was faced with the decision of negotiating a peace treaty with Nazi Germany or to stand strong to fight for the freedom of the nation.
With Nazi forces gradually invading Europe, the King being unenthusiastic over the newly appointed Prime Minister and with members of parliament criticizing his actions, Churchill must rally the nation together and attempt to change the course of World History as the fate of the nation lies in his hands.
Director, Joe Wright brings such a stylish and grand feel to his production designs and here is no different. The sets of Wartime London look very authentic, capturing the bleak and depressed era of the 1940’s and the stuffiness of upper class Londoners.
Despite the brilliant production and performances by the cast, the film seems to be lacking something. Whilst the story is a fascinating one as well as an important part of history, that also serves as an interesting observation of the wartime leader, it can become very dialogue heavy and doesn’t draw you in as much as you’d hope.
Gary Oldman’s performance is what really makes this film worthwhile, as he loses himself into the character of Winston Churchill being unrecognizable under all the impressive make-up and prosthetics.
He portrays Churchill with such gusto, as he faces decisions with the fate of the nation lying in his hands, as well as the cranky and ill-tempered side of him which provided some of the more humorous and lighthearted moments.
Whilst Oldman steals the show with his performance, there are some decent performances amongst the supporting cast, including Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife Clementine, who is a strong spouse and does her best to keep her husband grounded. She remains loyal and devoted to him despite his crankiness.
Another standout was Lily James as Churchill’s new secretary Elizabeth as she tries to tolerate her boss’s difficult behaviour and their interactions overtime start to form a level of respect and trust of each other.
Darkest Hour does fall flat in places, but Gary Oldman’s stunning performance keeps you captivated through to the end.
Purple Revolver Rating: 3.5/5- A stunning performance