HOLLYWOOD—Delivering a tale that really enthralls the viewer and keeps them stay glued to the theater screen, while tackling a historical figure is a tough task. Gary Oldman is the latest actor to tackle a real-life figure, this time in Winston Churchill. Yes, this is an iconic historical figure to say the least and Oldman is transformative in the performance. I mean that literally and figuratively.
In the “Darkest Hour,” Oldman is almost unrecognizable in the role, and if no one mentioned to me it was Gary playing the character I would have never known it. The film which is directed by Joe Wright has a slow pace, so be prepared for that going into this movie. You’re not going to witness stunning action for 2 hours. However, there are those moments of absolute phenomenal acting by Oldman that without a doubt are those moments of Oscar glory that sends chills down the spine and in the bones.
The core of the narrative involves Churchill who finds himself thrown in the mix of becoming a leader in the British government as the Nazi government rises to power and aims to dismantle the British government during World War II. While many are heralding Oldman’s performance, they should also talk about Kristin Scott Thomas who portrays Clementine Churchill, Winston’s wife who is a spitfire as well. Thomas showcases some fine acting skills here that were overlooked by many during awards season. Also adding to the caliber of acting are Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, and Stephen Dillane who are all supporting players in the film.
If I had to really explain the plot of this movie to anyone, it’s about a group of individuals all vying for power, but at the same time afraid to make a power move. We have Churchill who is boisterous, stubborn and not afraid to speak his mind even if he ostracizes those in his corner. Oldman’s ability to not only capture Winston’s diction, but mannerisms makes him a stunning, yet convincing double for the iconic individual. Watching Winston deliver such grand speeches to his constituents during a time where fear riddled their bones, reminded me of the great Martin Luther King Jr. There is a charisma, an inner strength, fearless and arrogance about this man that explains why he was heralded by so many during his lifetime.
Be prepared when entering the theater, that “Darkest Hour” is a grown-up film that is about history and is not expected to immediately suture you into its narrative. Understand the entire purpose of the flick was to highlight a historical titan with a fantastic performance by an actor whose work has gone overlooked for far too long. At its core, it’s a character study and audiences get to examine a master in his craft do what he does best: encompass a character who is anything, but one note.