2017 | 125 minutes | Rated PG-13
The good things you’ve heard about Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic are true: Gary Oldman is incredible as Churchill, and the movie takes the actor’s powers of transformation to another level. But I’m not sure this is the right moment for another slice of great-man-with-flaws hagiography. Churchill was a heavy-drinking, cigar-stinking, privileged white guy who didn’t treat his employees very well and got very lucky with the Dunkirk evacuation, but Darkest Hour sees him as rascally old genius beleaguered by those pesky wimps in the Labour Party. And the movie elicits groans during a fictionalized sequence that has Churchill mingling with the common rabble on the Tube, getting the inspiration for his famous “fight on the beaches” speech. Still, there’s some pleasure in the narrative’s concision, which condenses complicated military strategies into a punchy, talky script.
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