Fresh Talent. Every great movie star had their start somewhere. Directors are always taking chances, casting relative unknowns with the hope that they will be the next big thing. The new film “Darkest Hour” takes the ultimate chance by choosing a total neophyte to play the lead role of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The actor, Mr. Oldman, an obvious stage name reflecting his advanced age, may not have been recognizable to audiences, but he still brought a tremendous presence to the role. As an older, unattractive, heavy man it seems that Gary hit the jackpot with a role that fit his physical features perfectly. His performance was astounding as well, though he mumbled a bit too many of his lines. Another first time actor, Kristin Scott Thomas, proved herself to be just as, if not more talented than her notable twin brother Daniel Day Lewis. In a supporting yet significant role, veteran actress Lily James (“Cinderella”, “Baby Driver”, “Downton Abbey”) delivered a strong performance as well.
Duration. It’s important that movies are a reasonable length. It’s scientifically proven that humans cannot sit in a chair for longer that two hours and thirty minutes without either falling asleep or having to urinate, so movies are kept within this limit. However, some directors look to push their captive human audience to the limits. Christopher Nolan is one such director. His films have progressively increased in length through the Batman series up to “Interstellar.” He ultimately reached a breaking point, though, last year when his epic film about Dunkirk hit the mark of three and a half hours. At such a length, the theaters declined to show it, and he was forced to split the film into two separate movies. The 2nd Unit crew, led by Assistant Director Joe Wright, took on the responsibility of refining the fourth parallel plot about Dunkirk, the one focused on Churchill, into its own full feature. After seeing the 90 minute “Dunkirk” and this 120 minute “Darkest Hour,” I am beyond excited to watch the original “Nolan Director’s cut” once released on DVD.
Historical Accuracy. Often the biggest controversies surrounding historical dramas is the accuracy of the events and people shown. The film, “Darkest Hour,” deals with an extremely important event in world history; The Second World War. During the movie it struck me as odd that the United States was only mentioned once, and really had no role. Here the British Prime Minister was dealing with the end of Western Europe and the threat of invasion at the hands of the Nazis, and not a single American was there to help. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the allied forces were dying, and even more civilians were being killed, captured, and thrown in concentration camps, and yet the movie refused to show any American assistance. This made no sense to me. I mean, didn’t the USA win World War II? So we must have been involved from the beginning of the war, right? Oh well, the Brits rewriting history I guess. On a side note, I will say that the film was accurate in it’s depiction of the British parlement. They have a much better system than the American congress. We should have our two parties sit on separate sides in stadium seating and let them yell and throw blank sheets of paper at each other.
While “Darkest Hour” was filled with a lot of talking and speeches, the film kept up its energy not just with clever dialogue and engrossing performances, but also with adept editing and deft camera work. I give it zero popped corns.