Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Darkest Hour

Yesterday I saw Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman and Lily James.

The film chronicles the time that Winston Churchill (Oldman) rose to power in Great Britain and chose to fight the Nazis instead of attempting a peace agreement with them.

For those who know history, the ending will serve as no surprise, but how Britain got there might. Many, including me, didn't know that there was ever serious thought given to a peace treaty with Hitler or that Churchill faced such brutal opposition from his own team for his resolve against Germany.

So, how exciting is that to watch? More exciting than you may expect, because suspense builds even if you know the outcome. And the raves about Oldman's portrayal of the great leader are not at all exaggerated—he inhabits him in a scary-authentic way. From his mannerisms to his intonation, someone we know as a slender, handsome man, becomes the pudgy, quick-tempered, quirky prime minister before our eyes. The performance is Oscar bait, for sure.

Also great is Lily James as Churchill's secretary Elizabeth. She is wounded when he's hard on her and hopeful when she sees him doing the right thing. Though her words are few, her expressions tell us everything we need to know. A perfect example of how women were treated in the era and how "the job" was perceived to be more important than standing up for themselves or expressing their opinions.

Darkest Hour is a satisfying, if not fast-paced, glimpse into a period of history we can't seem to stop re-visiting. See it for Oldman's performance, if nothing else.


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