Joe Wright‘s Darkest Hour, which I haven’t time to write about because a 1 pm Battle of the Sexes screening is breathing down my beck, is partly a celebration of the fighting spirit of Winston Churchill (winningly played by Gary Oldman in a colorful, right-down-the -middle, straight-over-the-plate performance) and partly a political drama about the wavering discord and uncertainty that gripped the British leadership in the early days of Churchill’s first term as prime minister.
It’s basically the governmental deliberation side of Chris Nolan‘s Dunkirk, or the handling of that disaster and matters of backbone and patriotism and never-say-die in May and early June of 1940.
It feels familiar and well-trod (how could it not be given all the recent Churchill portrayals?) but rousingly straightforward. It’s a stirringly square, well-handled audience movie. The easily impressed were cheering and clucking when yesterday afternoon’s Palm screening ended.
Will Oldman’s flamboyantly twitchy performance result in a Best Actor nomination? You betcha, but honestly? He’s given the kind of classically actor-ish, heavily-made-up turn that could have been performed 30 or 50 or even 70 years ago. There will be no ignoring Oldman’s work here, but it’s not wedded to the present-day zeigeist. It’s a golden-oldie performance, albeit delivered fresh and new with plenty of zing and punch. Nothing wrong with that.
And that’s all I can write for now as I have to leave for the Galaxy theatre to get in line, etc. I’ll try to fill in later.