“We’ll fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”
Even written down, those words forcefully delivered by Winston Churchill during WWII are enough to send a thrill of emotion down the spine of any British person, despite the fact that they are likely more than a generation removed from the war itself. When Gary Oldman, who plays Churchill in Darkest Hour, released across UK screens on January 12th this year, bellows those words at his fusty colleagues, it’s hard not to jump up and applaud! Those words have been given fresh power by a truly great actor willing to challenge himself and return to the absolute top of his game.
That begs the question, could Darkest Hour be Gary Oldman’s finest moment? He was fiery and spittingly dangerous in Sid and Nancy, seedy and terrifying in Leon: The Professional, and quietly incisive as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. For our money, his take on Churchill appears every bit as memorable as those past glories, and if the trailer is anything to go by Oldman’s Churchill will be the most well-rounded rendition of the British great, to date. As you can see, it’s a true transformation.
Of course, it’s not all about Gary Oldman. The film also stars the winsomely charming Lily James (Cinderella) the ever poised, and classically beautiful Kristin Scott Thomas, and is directed by Joe Wright, whose previous work includes the popular classic Atonement. It’s unsurprising then that the film looks great, with wonderful period details.