Darkest Hour is a very slow film, strikingly similar to 2012’s Lincoln. Despite being so slow paced though, the film carries through with its powerful acting and historical accuracy.
Churchill’s portrayal. Gary Oldman has done an excellent job with his portrayal of Winston Churchill. Despite how foolish Churchill may seem at times, he is a very likable character due to this performance. His speeches are powerful and his humor is subtle, yet effective. This acting really shines towards the end of the movie, with the final scene leaving quite the impression. Definitely will not be forgetting that scene anytime soon.
Supporting cast. It was not just Oldman that made this film work, the supporting cast have also done a fantastic job with their respective roles. Maybe I am just scarred from watching The 15:17 to Paris recently, but each actor and actress in Darkest Hour really brought life to a topic that many may find boring. The film is about 90% dialogue, but never really felt like a chore to watch, largely do to this acting.
The intensity. The film is relatively accurate for the time period covered, with only a few aspects changed (largely for dramatic effect). The intensity of the situation (that of impending invasion by Nazi Germany) is captured perfectly as a result. The debates that took place amongst the war council had me tense up on more than one occasion. The acting definitely played a large role there.
Soundtrack. I listened through the soundtrack just a couple hours after watching the movie and was unable to recognize any of the pieces. There are no standout pieces, but there are also no really “bad” pieces. They are just average enough to be sprinkled throughout the film without the viewer noticing. One could say that soundtracks are supposed to be designed in such a way, but I think a good soundtrack is crucial for a movie, and Darkest Hour does not deliver in that department.
Length. While the majority of the movie’s scenes are paced well, there are definitely a few that slow down the experience. Shortening some of these scenes, or just removing them entirely, would certainly have helped the movie not feel so sluggish. It could easily have been twenty or thirty minutes shorter and still have the same effect.
Darkest Hour is definitely not a movie for the masses. If anything, it is easily the most “Oscar-like” movie I have seen as of late (hence the nominations it received). The movie’s best scenes are not all that long and the scenes in-between can easily be seen as just “filler”. However, the acting (especially the lead) makes it so much more bearable. Coupled with the intensity of the situation depicted and you actually get a decent film.