• 17 Feb - 23 Feb, 2018
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

Darkest Hour (DH) – historically, the time Winston Churchill took the seat of Prime Minister when the Second World War was brewing – is a major Oscar contender. It is, ironically, set in the same time as Dunkirk – another Oscar contender – and tells of the other end of that story.

DH is by far a superior motion picture, brimming with excellent cinematic decisions. Gary Oldman as Churchill nails the role with unprecedented accuracy, mimicking the British leader’s mannerisms, yet somehow making the role his own. Don’t be surprised if Oldman wins the Best Actor trophy at this year’s Oscars.

The film is practically written with Churchill at dead centre and chronicles Britain’s politics at the time of great, impending catastrophe. Churchill’s quirks are tough to handle, but he (and the actor) gets fine support from Clementine Churchill (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), as he continues to be arrogant in his believes and decisions.

Anthony McCarten’s screenplays are targeted for Award season, and director Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina) milks it dry for all its worth. Apart from Oldman, Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography – and especially the lighting design – helps raise the film’s standards by a couple of notches. The tone and ambience, perhaps the hardest things to get right, strive hard to not turn the plot into that of a telefilm. In today’s world, when telefilms (and even internet productions running on Netflix) have a comparable measure of quality, that is no easy feat (historically, most similar topic win Emmy’s).

Some may feel that DH is a tad overly dramatic, and that it is slightly straightforward. The film, though, had to be made this way to prove its uniqueness.

However, despite the depth, it is sometimes difficult deciding who one should applaud for more in the film (other than Oldman, that is). This is one of Wright’s better films, and one can see that he has matured as a director, but on hindsight the film offers a healthy mix of celebratory elements (Costume, Make-up and Production Design, the Cinematography) – each worthy of their nominations. Some may justly call the film an Oscar bait… and sometimes, that’s not really a bad thing.