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Darkest Hour

Cinema Stephanie “Blogette” Vol. II, No. 2

Darkest Hour (U.K, 2017,Working Title Films, 125 min., dir. Anthony McCarten) is a glimpse of an intense time (1940) in WW II Great Britain whenSir Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) became Prime Minister replacing Neville Chamberlain facing the imminent challenge of how to defeat the formidable forces of Nazi Germany from not only overtaking Europe, more importantly invading England the British isles.

Including Darkest Hour 2017 year in cinema had three movies from U.K. that take place in that precarious WWII setting. The latter makes Dunkirk (U.K., 2017, Syncopy, Warner Bros.) more understandable, and Their Finest (U.K., Sweden, releasted 2017, 117 min.; dir.LoneSherfig) the most emotionally evocative story adds the element of compassion not so always so compelling in the other movies.

If you’ve seen one film then don’t miss the others because the “triad” depicts an extremely important time in world history and each film makes the other more meaningful.

Darkest Hour evokes some tears, and many laughs. As the esteemed statesman who saved Britain, and the “free world” Oldman is superb with subtle nuances depicting the genius of Churchill as a strategist, orator, and humanitarian; truly award winning performance. Supporting cast have much to keep up with.

Having recently read the excellent Clementine: (note: as author states “rhymes with mean, not mine”) The Life of Mrs.Winston Churchill (Sonia Purnell,Viking Press) - that was a gift of Chase Bank - I was acutely aware of the strength of the relationship of the Churchills and her value in his achievements. Very few were allowed to call her “Clemmie” and it’s a disservice that in the credit roll she is listed that way. Kristin Scott Thomas, a very accomplished actress with many stellar credits, was not quite right as Mrs. Churchill. She has the style, however not the right look and her performance though studied seemed imitative rather than emotive. Emma Thompson or Joely Richardson as “Clementine” would have exuded the traditional English beauty, stately and subdued the wry smile of the original.

Though shyly charming as Churchill’s neophyte secretary Elizabeth Layton actress Lily James adds pathos yet is replaceable by any pretty face of the day. For most of the picture I thought she was Gemma Atherton who was the ingénue lead of Their Finest. There have been several Churchill related films recently and no doubt there will be more as he is studied and understood for his revered place in world history. That’s important for the past, present and future.

By the way when in London visit the “War Rooms” truly going back in time as depicted in the film. I’m wondering if they actually filmed there and must try to find out

Churchill’s emphatic “we shall not surrender” speech of June 1940 in the House of Parliament is a magnificent crescendo. “V” for victory for Darkest Hour.

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