My rating IMDb Rotten Tomatoes
Critics Audience Critics Audience
7/10 75/100 7.4/10 86% 85%
2017 was an interesting year in movies, when we had a couple of releases complementing each other. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, for example, is a great movie to watch in addition to Wonder Woman.
Dunkirk, by its turn, can be more appreciated after watching Darkest Hour, since both of them talk about exactly the same episode, only with different perspectives. Whereas in Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan focuses on the beach where the British soldiers were waiting to be rescued, Darkest Hour (directed by Joe Wright) choses to show the political battle that took place while the British government was deciding how to deal with that situation.
Darkest Hour shows, then, Winston Churchill (masterfully played by Gary Oldman, almost unrecognizable) rising into power during the beginning of World War II. Within days of taking office, he has to make a decision between negotiating a peace treaty with Nazi Germany and continue to fight. That would mean, however, that a solution would need to be found to bring back the troops that were cornered in Dunkirk. Without them, the United Kingdom would virtually have no military power to remain in the War.
Winston Churchill is shown in all types of situation: driving his assistant (Lily James) crazy; being reprimanded by his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas); uncomfortably having weekly lunches with King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn); etc. We also he him giving one of his most famous speeches and making probably one of the most difficult decisions a leader of a country can make: remain in a war.
The outcome, as history shows (or as Dunkirk depicts) was favorable thanks to the British civilians who massively help in the rescue.
Joe Wright is no strange to the Dunkirk episode, having famously shot a beautiful sequence of the soldiers on that beach in Atonement. He wisely chose not to repeat himself here, so the audience mainly sees political discussions behind closed doors rather than any war action. He did repeat his partnership with composer Dario Marianelli for the score and it gives the audience the sense of urgency whenever it is needed (even though Atonement‘s is still better).
Due to its much politically charged tone, Darkest Hour may not be enjoyable for everyone, but one thing is certain: Gary Oldman is at his best and deserves an Oscar nomination (and win) for this role.