Film Review by FIORE
It is not uncommon for two films with similar themes to square off against one another at the box office. We’ve had competing Snow White movies, two movies about asteroids racing towards Earth; two nature rebellion disaster movies, and even several decades ago, two competing James Bond films. This is happening again this year with the release of DUNKIRK and now, DARKEST HOUR. While both films detail the same time period, and the same incident in history, one is presented from the military perspective, while the other from the political.
DARKEST HOUR concerns a limited vignette in the political career of Winston Churchill. With Adolph Hitler’s Nazi army sweeping, seemingly unopposed across Europe, the British army is cornered on the sea cities of Calais and Dunkirk. While many in the British parliament sense impending doom and want to secure a negotiated peace with Hitler, Churchill wants to fight to the end, preserving England’s sovereignty and freedom.
Gary Oldman offers a fantastic portrayal of Churchill. He appears delighted in the role and his ecstasy permeates his performance. Starring with Oldman are Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn, Kristen Scott Thomas ad Lily James.
Dario Marianelli provides a rousing score. I could easily listen to the soundtrack again, it is that good. Kazuhiro Tsuji is responsible for the prosthetics that turn the gaunt Oldman into the rotund Churchill. Ivana Primorac completes the look with hairstyling and make up.
One common, yet disturbing element in modern biopics is the writer’s penchant for turning heroes, whether they are warriors, commoners or superheroes, into average joes. Anthony McCarten does this with DARKEST HOUR, stripping Churchill of his legendary status as statesman and accenting his foibles and short-comings. While this appeases the we-are-all-equal mob, it grinds those who believe there are natural born leaders.
Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK portrayed the battle and turning point in WWII from the military perspective. DARKEST HOUR tells the tale from the politician’s viewpoint. These perspectives are both valid and intriguing, as they dominate news headlines today; between those who are willing to capitulate for peace, and those who want to restore America to its former glory.
DARKEST HOUR and DUNKIRK. Two films with similar themes. Both are enjoyable to watch; however, if I must watch one again, I’ll pick DUNKIRK.