– By Cate Marquis –
Gary Oldman gives an amazing performance as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright DARKEST HOUR, a riveting drama about Churchill and the earliest darkest days of World War II, as Britain faced the crisis of Dunkirk and invasion by Hitler loomed. The film is an admirable work, a mix of historical drama and biopic, but it is Oldman’s remarkable Oscar-worthy performance that is generating the most attention.
DARKEST HOUR offers more than Gary Oldman’s sterling, stirring performance. It is also a wonderful companion to a couple of other WWII films released this year, DUNKIRK and the less-seen THEIR FINEST HOUR, both set around he same time in Britain. Combined with director Joe Wright’s earlier film ATONEMENT, which contains a riveting depiction of a soldier’s experience pinned down at Dunkirk, these films create a surprisingly rounded picture of an event and time that still resonates, particularly for Brits.
Of the several films about Winston Churchill this year, DARKEST HOUR is by far the best, not only thanks to Oldman but to a well-written script and strong direction. Director Joe Wright has shown great skill in other period films, such as PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and ATONEMENT, and puts those skills to good use here. The film also sports a strong supporting cast and wonderful evocative visual style.
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