Darkest Hour (2017)


Cast includes: Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Kristin Scott Thomas (Gosford Park), Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom), Lily James (Downton Abbey), Ronald Pickup (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Stephen Dillane (Spy Game)
Director: Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina, Hanna)
Genre: Drama | History (125 minutes)


Huffington Post

May 9, 1940… the Germans army is invading Belgium, and the British government is coming apart. Prime Minister Attlee’s policies have left England dangerously vulnerable. The Conservatives are going to have to put forth a leader who is acceptable to the opposition. Since Neville Chamberlain won’t stand, it’ll have to be Viscount Halifax, who will explore every option for a peace treaty with Herr Hitler. When the Halifax option fails, they’re down to one man… the only one acceptable to the other party… “This is totally absurd.” May 10… Miss Layton is to become the new typist for Winston Churchill. She is warned that he mumbles. “I said ‘ripe’ not ‘right,’ you nincompoop!” As she is about to leave in tears, a telegram from the palace arrives. Clemmie congratulates Winston on finally getting the job he deserves. “I’m getting the job because the ship is sinking,” says Winston. “It’s not an honor… it’s revenge.” On route to the palace, the driver notes that you’d hardly know there’s a war on. As Winston looks out the window, he realizes that he’s never ridden a bus, a subway or done most normal human activities. “This is a disaster,” many say… always bringing up that business in Gallipoli. “He was right about Hitler though.”

Per protocol, King George VI asks Churchill to form a government and then schedules their traditional weekly meetings… Mondays at 4:00? “I nap at 4:00,” says Winston. So Monday lunch, it is. “How do you manage to drink so much during lunch?” asks the king. “With much practice,” says Winston. At Parliament, the attacks on Churchill have already begun. A hostile War Cabinet wants Churchill to reach out to Mussolini to help broker a peace treaty. “Our aim is victory… we must wage war on sea, air and land… without victory, there can be no survival,” says Churchill. “He’s completely delusional… remember Gallipoli!” And the drinking… starting with whiskey at breakfast… “I wouldn’t let him borrow my bicycle!” Can they force a vote of no confidence if Churchill refuses to engage in peace talks? What they don’t know is that Churchill him self is conflicted, confessing to Clemmie that he might have to negotiate with Hitler. In the meantime, the entire British army is up against the sea… and there may be no way of rescuing them. Winston doubts that he’s up to the challenge. “You’re wise because you have doubts,” Clemmie tells him.

Winston is known for his gifted use of language, but it will take more than rhetoric to face the challenges of England’s darkest hour. Even though we know how it turns out, this is a very suspenseful film because most of us don’t know how many challenges, twists and turns there were… the royal family possibly having to flee to Canada. Gary Oldman convincingly captures Churchill’s mumble, even though he does not do an exact impression. He also beautifully captures the conflict and uncertainty of the enormous responsibility. It’s only fitting that a movie about Winston Churchill would be brilliantly written, and Darkest Hour certainly is. Given the great sacrifice that’s going to be asked of the British people, great communication skills are going to be needed. At the moment, Churchill finally ends the debate about whether to negotiate a peace treaty with Hitler, reluctant members of his party have to agree: “He has mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

The dark days before Britain unifies behind a commitment to stand up to Hitler’s army

Popcorn Profile

Rated: PG-13
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Zips Right Along
Visual Style: High-End Production
Nutshell: England on the brink of WWII
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative & Thought Provoking

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