By Eddy Montilla.
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Anthony McCarten
MPAA: PG-13 Parents strongly cautioned (Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.)
Starring: Gary Oldman (as Winston Churchill), Kristin Scott Thomas (as Clementine Churchill), Lily James (as Elizabeth Nel)…
Running Time: 125 minutes
At first glance, it seems that a plot based on people’s life stories is an easy task to carry out for the vast amount of information that can be found on the Internet these days. However, it is quite the opposite, actually, since the director cannot bring anything new to those facts about the subject of the biography that we know already or we can get with a simple click or movement of our index finger. And if the director commits the folly of showing something that is made up out of the whole cloth, he or she is running the risk of being bombarded with criticism by people who are very well up on history. Besides, before going to see such movies, everybody knows what will happen from head to foot. Therefore, if the director does not want to see the film ending in fiasco, his or her salvation is only one: an incredible performance by the actor who plays the role of the important historical figure.
The above remarks explain why movies like The Iron Lady (2011) with Meryl Streep and Malcolm X (1992) with Denzel Washington were successful instead of falling into oblivion and why Darkest Hour (2017), thanks to Gary Oldman, will be remembered for years. Churchill’s life was characterized by Oldman in a way that very few actors can do it these days. He was masterly in dealing with delicate and contradictory situations like Churchill’s anguish of indecisions before and after being Prime Minister and his resolute leadership to achieve things. Oldman drank as Churchill, smoked as Churchill, yelled at people as Churchill and made me laugh with the same caustic humour that the Prime Minister had.
When it comes to a biopic, you do not have to offer too much details about what happened, but how the director and the main actor did their respective job (this comment is for movie critics only!). The English director Joe Wright, best known for Pride & Prejudice (2005), brought us a well-balanced movie surrounded by a good piece of music that aroused the audience’s interest for the film. The rest is on Gary Oldman’s shoulders, which can be seen when he (Churchill) hugged his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas), when he is talking to a fearful king, George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) when Nazi forces advanced during the early days of World War II or when he delivered his speech in front of political supporters and opponents.
Winston Churchill is widely celebrated as Britain’s greatest ever Prime Minister and one of the most eminent and debated men of the 20th Century. Gary Oldman’s job on Churchill is not enough accolade to be the Prime Minister of United Kingdom (and I don’t think that he wants that job either!), but undoubtedly, he deserved the best actor Oscar 2018 that he won for Darkest Hour. If you are not convinced about it, I recommend you to see the moving scene when he gets on the subway to talk and listen to people. I’m sure that you will change your mind and I will have more time to write my next review.
This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.
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