Darkest Hour is a movie about a grumbling Churchill, so well played by Gary Oldman, facing one month of the crucial Second World War history. From a different point of view than “Dunkirk” by Christopher Nolan, this British production aims to represent the moral and human feelings about the approaching Nazi towards the French shore.
So here's four reason why I loved this movie.
If you are a leader,
you are strongly recommend to have doubts
No one has ever said how difficult it is to admit doubts and uncertainties, but especially a leader has to face it. Gary Oldman is spectacular as Churchill, serving up one of his best performances in recent memory. He sinks so far into the role that he becomes barely recognizable, leaving only Churchill incarnate. (Even though, IMO he runs too fast up to the Westminster stairs).
The intimate conversation with King George VI in Churchill grey bedroom is a precious look behind the mask. It's not just about the strategic alliance between the two, it's more about being always on the spotlight as Prime Minister and King.
It's about being sometimes alone and desperately alone surrounded by doubts and regrets. It's about the duality of public and private image.
The view from below: the typist Lily James
Working on clients perception of problems, I suggest to think about an important point of view, frequently ignored: "What your subordinate think of the actual situation?".
We are always overprotective with our work, that we usually miss the glance from below
As a leader Churchill must have a comprehensive vision to anticipate problems and to bring actual solutions to the table. He's more likely focused on the overall working flow and Lily James, the typist, plays a strategic lower counterpart: she's a point of view that sometimes is kept behind the rolling events, sometimes is aside, sometimes is fully immersed into the drama. She's the constant, but from time to time ignored, public perception of the events: she doesn't know anything, she silently conducts her work. But she has questions, and she's not worried to ask them.
The relationship with Churchill is more likely the daughter-father kind where questions are rarely asked, and respect is given for granted.
Bright and dark: the use of light
Joe Wright’s direction, combined with Bruno Delbonnel's cinematography, hooks the audience immediately with a mix of light and dark, plongée shoots and tracking shoots around the city, behind the car glass.
Leveraging on a strong architecture, on an accurate use of light, shadows and semi-darkness Joe Wright pushes the story forward. As he said: “For me, Darkest Hour was a return to what I first fell in love with – drama. It was kind of a back-to-basics exercise. On the page, it’s lots of old white men in rooms talking to each other, so the challenge for me was to see if I could create an inherently cinematic piece that starts off quite light and funny and then becomes something like a political thriller."
Some scene were a great surprise, to me: the introduction scene lighting the cigar while in bed and the elevator through darkness are my best picks.
I have to admit a special regard to his directional approach: I loved the typewrite rhythm of Atonement, the stage look and movement of Anna Karenina, and the Nosedive super social episode from Black Mirror, do you remember?
Powerful words and concrete actions
Speech is acting's soulmate. Churchill is the make-shift candidate England was not convinced about. He was not elected, he hasn't a history record of successes, he's not appreciated by his own party. But, even though the stumbling blocks along his path increase, he's not defeated by "you-can't" warn advice.
He will raise awareness keep pushing and promising the impossible to happen. He will shift people opinion just promising the better is coming, lifting hope. Each speech anticipate war decision on the field. The final scene is the glorious result of this climax: a raging speech to collect agreement before British backlash. And it was the turning point of the war, the single act that decided the course of events for an entire generation.