Gary Oldman’s Oscar winning performance invests the character of Churchill with doubt, humanity and righteous anger – Darkest Hour Preview

Churchill has been so lionised in reason times, that it’s both a surprise and a shock to be reminded how tenuous his authority was at the outset of the Second World War, and how capricious was fate in placing him in high office in the first place. Director Joe Wright’s film takes this larger than life character and invests him with doubt, humanity, and righteous anger, all channelled through the considerable acting chops of Gary Oldman.

While Oldman’s Oscar winning performance is at the centre of the film, and has understandably drawn much of the attention, he is given excellent support from Ronald Pickup and Stephen Dillane as his appeasing colleagues, from Ben Mendelson as the King, and (while it was clearly a struggle to squeeze women into this male-centric plot) Kristin Scott Thomas, who is excellent as wife Clemmie.

Anthony McCarten’s screenplay takes great liberties with the facts of the case – a scene on a tube train is so incredulous it threatens to derail the plot – but the central theme of Churchill’s uncertain tenure remains potent. How things play out, and how they could so easily have gone a different way, still has the capacity to send shivers down your spine.

-By David Vass

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