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'Darkest Hour' doesn't win battle; may take the war

What’s in with Justin

POSTED: January 5, 2018 4:30 p.m.
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Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour."

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"Darkest Hour" stars Gary Oldman in the true story of the events of Sir Winston Churchill and his involvement in World War II.

Since this movie came out in November and received a nationwide expansion in December, you know what that means: potential Oscar bait.

This is a good, but not great, interpretation of one of the 20th century’s most prominent figures. Oldman stars as Churchill and as the movie begins, he’s been called on by Parliament to succeed Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of Great Britain. The powers that be declared his predecessor as being weak. He accepts the position, despite receiving a lukewarm reception. He continues to have the support of his wife Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas in a lovely, yet understated performance.)

Ben Mendelsohn stars as King George VI who exchanges dialogue with Churchill and wants to make absolutely certain he knows what he’s getting into as he leads England into battle against Nazi Germany.

Lily James from "Cinderella" and "Baby Driver" costars as his personal secretary.

The movie focuses mostly on Churchill’s relentless involvement in sending a series of civilian forces to help the soldiers at Dunkirk. You might as well consider this "Dunkirk," only seen from a different angle.

Oldman gives career best work as Churchill and he commands the screen with a convincing, electrifying presence filled with determination, a remarkable physical stature and, most importantly, he captures of the essence of Churchill himself.

If only the rest of the film lived up to his performance.

The rest of the cast gives strong, compelling work, but the rest of the film delves into conventional biopic territory by going more for zeroing in on the politics and historical connotations of WWII, instead of channeling the personal side of its subject.

Yes, Churchill is known more for his mission and purpose doing the war. But insight into who the man was or why he chose his role in history would’ve provided more clarity.

Not to flog a dead horse, but there is no doubt Oldman will be nominated for best actor and it wouldn’t surprise me if he even goes on to win that coveted prize.

Thanks to his performance, this movie fights on the beaches, the landing grounds, the fields and the streets, the hills and it never surrenders.

Grade: B+

Rated PG-13 for some thematic material.

Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.

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