*January 19th, 2017*
Darkest Hour doesn't feel like a film. It feels like a desperate display of everything wrong with biopic films in hopes of winning that sweet, sweet Oscar. Painfully dull, ugly and overlong, Darkest Hour makes me question why I even like films.
There's nothing genuine or sincere about this film, it's a collection of scenes following Winston Churchill's first days as Prime Minister during World War 2 and leading up to the evacuation of Dunkirk. I appreciated trying to focus on a small time period of Churchill's time in office, but there was never any urgency or anything grab you. For a film about a larger than life character, it's a painful chore to get through.
There's a lot of talk about Gary Oldman's performance and potential Oscar gold. Which is a great shame, I'm not saying his performance was bad at all, the complete opposite, he's the only thing that makes this tedious bore worth sitting through to an extent, it's that he's delivered much better performances in much better films, so if he bags an Oscar for this, then that is everything wrong with film awards.
Oldman is definitely committed to his role, there's no denying that. The job on the prosthetics make Oldman near unrecognisable in the role. He brings a lot of humour to the even out the dryness of the film too, I was surprised at some of the funnier moments that actually made me laugh. I will say that Oldman's performance does get a little much at times, to the point he was borderline Anime if you know what I mean.
While I'm sure most of the smaller details of the film are based on real life accounts, I could not help but cringe at some of the more laughably bad and embarrassing scenes. In particular, one at the end involving Churchill on the tube is some of the most brutal and pathetic displays of audience pleasing patriotism I've ever seen.
What's disappointing is just how little there is to this film is how little there is to digest here aside from Oldman's performance. The supporting cast are wasted, especially Lily James, who is reduced to such a pointless role that could have been played by anyone. Ben Mendelssohn is also wasted with his brief few scenes in the film.
I know this is set in London in WW2 too, but did it have to be so drab and ugly? Joe Wright's direction is bland and by the numbers, leaving no kind of distinctive visual style. It felt like a BBC miniseries at some points, just with a bigger actor in the lead role. This might have worked better as a miniseries actually, and a better writer too in all honesty.
Darkest Hour might bag Gary Oldman his first Oscar, it's just a shame that it would be for this, a bland, forgettable and boring war time drama that's more obsessed with winning awards than telling an involving and interesting story. Cinema is dead.
Darkest Hour is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron