When I first put my hand up to watch Darkest Hour, I was giddy with excitement. With Gary Oldman winning a Golden Globe for his performance, and being considered the front-runner in the Lead Actor category of the upcoming Oscars, I was eager to see his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s new war drama.

However, when I sat down to write this review, my eagerness was supplanted by reluctance; how was I going to aptly praise Oldman’s performance in 300 words while taking Churchill’s controversial history into account?

Without delving too deeply into Churchill’s legacy, what I will say is this; no amount of words could allow me to perfectly articulate why Oldman deserves so much acclaim.

Darkest Hour, written and co-produced by Anthony McCartin (who wrote 2015’s The Theory of Everything), centres upon Winston Churchill in the months following his appointment as British Prime Minister in May 1940.

His leadership comes at a turbulent time, with Belgium and France on the brink of capitulating to Nazi Germany. Churchill pushes for British forces to fight back on the war front, certain of Hitler’s unwillingness to negotiate. He is criticised by King George VI and the Conservative Party, who dislike his outspokenness.

Wright paints an ultimately uplifting portrait of a man trying his best to fulfil a role nobody else wanted; a man who stirred up resilience at a time when all hope seemed lost.

And even if you do not like war dramas, Oldman is so electrifying that any sense of boredom is quickly dispelled once his fuller frame enters the screen. His mannerisms are at once so theatrical and smooth that you can practically smell the whiskey on his breath.

Oldman will lead you along, top hat on his head and cane in his right hand, on a journey so captivating that you will want to sit with him and talk for a while longer.

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