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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Darkest Hour (2017)

In May 1940, as Hitler continues to bring Europe to its knees, Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) resigns as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is invited to take the position by a reluctant King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn). Directed by Joe Wright (ATONEMENT), the film focuses on Churchill's first crucial 30 days in office. So unlike most movie biographies, rather than wasting time cramming years into a two hour running time, by concentrating on a particular moment in history, we get detail and structure and character development. As with all historical biographies, artistic license is taken but not at the expense of its historical context. Anthony McCarten's (THEORY OF EVERYTHING) screenplay is solid but make no bones about it, the film's ace is Gary Oldman as Churchill whose performance ranks right up there with George C. Scott's PATTON. After the initial shock of seeing Oldman in Kazuhiro Tsuji's remarkable (and Oscar deserving) make up, we forget Oldman and see only Churchill. A sensational underscore by Dario Marianelli fuels the film. With Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Churchill, Lily James (DOWNTON ABBEY) and Stephen Dillane. 

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