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  • Dermot Breen

Darkest Hour: a race to the Oscars

For months we have been shown clips of Gary Oldman as Sir Winston Churchill in Joe Wright's "Darkest Hour" and rightly so. Oldman has garnered a Best Actor nod in Oscars 2018 and it will take a lot to beat him. It is hard to see where the prosthetics end and Gary Oldman begins. It is simply stunning. Oldman is able to not only act through but use the makeup to enhance the experience.

Suffice to say, Oldman's performance is worth the price of admission alone.

Some critics have not been kind to the film. I found it genuinely warm, witty, tense and funnier than the trailer led me to believe.

For those with even a passing knowledge of WWII history will know that in 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement was not working with Hitler. The Nazis continued to sweep across Western Europe and confidence in the PM evaporated. Winston Churchill was a compromise candidate for PM who no one wanted. He inherited Parliament just as the British Army was surrounded at Dunkirk. Thanks to Christopher Nolan's film we know how that ended. The film is focussed on Churchill's first few weeks in power and brilliantly shows the struggle he faced with his own doubts and with the opposition in his own party. He must decide to whether to negotiate a peace with Hitler or wage war against seemingly insurmountable odds. We know what happens next.

Director Joe Wright and writer Anthony McCarren not only bring us tension and drama, we also see the eccentricities of Churchill - his propensity for wandering around naked or dictating letters while in the bath. We see Churchill's dry sense of humour and most importantly we see his dark side, his struggles with self-doubt and his Black Dog. It is a human story.

There is an excellent support cast, with particular mention for Ben Mendelsohn as George VI, however this is Oldman's show. And the makeup. Yes, the makeup is a co-star.

Oldman deserves the Oscar.

And the makeup.

Yes, the makeup deserves the Oscar too.

4 out of 5

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