“I want others to love and respect you, as I do.”
Those are the words spoken by Kristin Scott Thomas as she portrays the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wife Clementine. They are spoken after Churchill is appointed prime minister among opposition within his own parliament and perfectly portray the main struggle of the “The Darkest Hour.”
It is hard to accept the struggles of the men in power at times of war yet the film does exactly that. Churchill, despite his common popularity in the present time, is a historical figure whose past is riddled with controversy and this film does an excellent job of walking the line of not glorifying him while still displaying his triumph in a time where it was needed the most.
While “The Darkest Hour” does an excellent job of historically accuracy, unfortunately that’s not what makes the best movie. The film suffers from a lack of interest for an American audience as it rushes to establish the power struggle within the British government. While the struggle of retaining power for Churchill was a key obstacle to overcome the growing force that was Hitler’s rise, it is one that is thinly plotted out.
With that said, while the context surrounding it is thinly veiled, Churchill’s personal struggles of being attacked by those around him while still knowing that his own unpopular opinion is the one that will save the Western hemisphere is brilliantly portrayed by Gary Oldman and that is the single element that saves the movie. Oldman’s portrayal of a man who has so many unlikeable qualities yet is still seen as a sympathetic character is without a doubt one of the best performances this year.
The film does an excellent job of allowing Oldman the room to portray Churchill without forcing a controversial figure at the time to be better than what he was. It shows that Churchill was far from a perfect man but was the one needed at the time.
While it could have capitalized on the internal power struggle that was the majority fighting for peace negotiations with Hitler and Churchill knowing that would equate to simple surrender, “The Darkest Hour” portrays the struggle and turmoil war takes not only on the men in the front lines but the men who have to make the decisions as well.
It not only shows a country that was afraid of the greatest threat to civilization in the 20th century but how the determination of one man saved Britain from being justifiably scared into making one of the greatest mistakes in the country’s history. That determination, while now glorified and justifiably so, is explored in this film in a way that shows just how much opposition it was faced with and the humanity that goes behind standing by your beliefs even when, in this case literally, the whole world is against you.
“The Darkest Hour” does drone on at times but its core message and the performance of Gary Oldman makes the movie worth a watch for historical fanatics and those who want to see the context of one of the pivotal decisions in World War II.