Darkest Hour is a solid movie. It’s a piece that has been designed around the promise of an actor knocking it out of the park as Winston Churchill, and on that level, Gary Oldman’s performance is precisely as good as you’ve been led to believe, and it’s the sort of thing that is very attractive to Oscar voters. Director Joe Wright regains his footing after the slip-up that was Pan (I’m a big admirer of Atonement, Hanna, The Soloist, and especially Anna Karenina) with a historical drama project that feels like a palette-cleanser of sorts. It also feels like something he could do in his sleep, and while I’m not sure he needs to go as bonkers as he did with his updating of the classic Peter Pan fable, it’s now time to get back to higher ambitions and taking more chances – give us another edgy gem like Hanna, please!
Bruno Delbonnel’s Oscar-nominated cinematography is smoky, shadowy, and gorgeous in a simple manner, and considering that Anthony McCarten’s script is as dialogue-heavy as it is, the film’s pacing is very smart and well-measured. The ace supporting cast, which includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Ronald Pickup, and many others, ties it all together. A critical success and a big hit in theaters (it’s thus far grossed $130 million worldwide off of a $30 million budget), Darkest Hour is currently available on iTunes, and will hit Blu-ray/DVD on February 27th.
Review by Nick Clement