There have been some memorable Churchills in recent times – Brendan Gleeson (‘Into the Storm’ 2000), Albert Finney (‘The Gathering Storm’ 2002), Timothy Spall (‘The King’s Speech’ 2010), John Lithgow (‘The Crown’ 2016) and Brian Cox (‘Churchill’ 2017). Now, on top of all those, we have ‘Darkest Hour’. It’s been acclaimed, particularly as its Churchill has just been nominated for an Oscar. When I queried my lovely lady whether or not she would accompany me to see it at the State she thought a while and then replied in the negative. She reckoned she was all Churchilled out. I still went, but do you know what? She had a point.
There’s no doubt Gary Oldman does a good job in the role. But, for some reason, I just couldn’t wholly believe him as the great man. Maybe that’s because, for large chunks of the movie, he resembled more British hangdog than the British Bulldog needed to beat Hitler. Throughout it all there was the picture in my mind, of the actor being interviewed on one of the British chat shows I’m addicted to, spruiking his role and speaking of the hours he had to spend each day in make-up being transformed into something that resembled the statesman. For my money it showed. He wasn’t a ‘natural’, unlike the aforementioned thesps.
There were other aspects of the show that irked as well. Did it really take a beautiful young woman (Lily James), from the typist pool, to inject some steel into his spine? Even in the fake reality of the big screen, it was obvious that his fictional adventure, unencumbered by any security, into the bowels of the London Underground to test the views, on appeasing Adolf H, from the great English unwashed seemed highly implausible.
But there were aspects I loved, especially the sepia slo-mos of the general public going about their daily business as the country descended into conflict. The supporting cast was a real who’s who and were terrific – Kirstin Scott Thomas (Clemmie), Ronald Pickup (Chamberlain), Stephen Dillance (Halifax), Samuel West (Eden) and particularly Ben Medelsohn as King George VI. The Aussie actor carried the wartime monarch off splendidly. And in Oldman’s voice, those Churchillian speeches still sent a shiver up the spine and bought a tear to the eye.
The movie is worth seeing, if you also don’t feel you are all Churchilled out – it’s just not as fine as it should have been
Trailer for the Movie = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pNOCzV5jG0