Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours
There are plenty of films out there that claim to be “art” by pushing the boundaries of the medium. These movies often come off as just plain weird. Darkest Hour (2017) is an artfully crafted masterpiece, even if it seems to be a biopic about Winston Churchill at first glance. All the individual elements that go into a fantastic film are in top form here, as we see how lighting, cinematography, music, plot, and acting combine to create something greater than the sum of their parts. Darkest Hour doesn’t have one element that makes it stand out as an incredible movie; it uses all facets of its production to create a masterpiece of art.
The look of this film is incredible. From the overhead shots of battlegrounds seamlessly transitioning into the carnage of war to the heavy contrast of light and shadow emphasizing the “darkness” of the “darkest hour,” the visual spectacle of Churchill’s unconventional rise to power is memorable on its own. When you add in Dario Marianelli’s fitting score to the visuals, the entire movie comes alive with emotion. Of course, this movie would be nothing without Gary Oldman’s Oscar-worthy performance, made all the more impressive by the hair and makeup to transform him into Churchill.
Coupling with The King’s Speech (2010) and Dunkirk (2017), Darkest Hour helps to show how dire the situation for the British was during this pivotal moment in World War II. Despite the substantial stakes, the movie never feels too depressing. In fact, there are plenty of moments that are downright hilarious. These moments are mixed in with poignant scenes that help to bring the humanity of the situation to the audience’s attention. I’m a little disappointed this movie had such fierce competition in the categories it was nominated in, as I’m sure it would have won a lot more of them if it came out in any other year.
An artful piece of history, I give Darkest Hour 5.0 stars out of 5.