“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
BQB here with a review of “Darkest Hour.”
You know 3.5 readers, modern politics suck. They’re messy and brutish, a blood sport on all sides. Amidst all this kerfluffle, where is the man who is willing to stand up, not for what is popular, but for what is right? Where is the man who is willing to slap his balls down on the table and be prepared to lose them to the naysayers if they’re proven right?
Sigh. That man (or woman) is working the drive-thru at Arby’s or some such bullshit, because let’s face it, people without polish and pizzazz (or money) can’t get a foot through the political door these days.
Luckily, such wasn’t the case for Sir Winston Churchill. An old mumbler who looked like a bald bull dog, he drank to excess, took most meetings in his bathrobe, and chain smoked cigars and drank bottles upon bottles of booze all day long. Moody, unpolished, rude, but he had balls. Oh, how he had balls.
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) sought peace with Hitler. The result? At the start of the film, Hitler’s armies stand ready to overrun Belgium and take over France, where, without intervention, they’ll push British forces into the sea at Dunkirk, effectively ending the UK’s ability to defend itself.
It’s a hopeless situation and the political types in parliament are more interested in saving their careers than the nation. No one even wants the position of Prime Minister now, as defeat seems imminent and no one wants to go down as the leader who handed England over to Germany.
Thus, Churchill, who had long been the lonely canary in the coal mine, warning England and the rest of the Europe that Hitler was up to some serious shit and he should met not with appeasement but early attacks before he gets too far, is placed in charge.
Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane or Roose Bolton to “Game of Thrones” fans) want to double down on a new attempt to appease Hitler, oblivious to the fact that earlier attempts to satiate the Nazis just made them that much stronger.
Together, they make moves to force Churchill into peace talks, putting the bulldog into a grave position. The 25,000 lives he lost under his military command years earlier weigh heavily on him, and the prospects of victory against a war machine that has conquered the rest of the continent seem grim.
Ultimately, it’s up to Churchill to make some tough choices and outfox the foxes in his hen house at their own game.
SPOILER ALERT – because, I mean, it’s history, so you should know already, but Churchill chooses to fight Hitler rather than make a peace. He’s certain it would be a lame ass peace, one that would leave the swastika flying over Buckingham Palace and a Nazi controlled puppet government running the show.
But it was definitely an unsavory roll of the dice. Had Germany prevailed, the puppet government would have looked better than a defeated, decimated Britain…and thus Gary Oldman as Churchill gives us a front row seat to how the proverbial sausage is made, how leadership requires the bold to make a tough decision and to stay the course, no matter how far away the light at the end of the tunnel may seem.
Will there be more Churchills in the future? Honestly, I feel television really screwed our collective political pooch. As long as elections are decided based on who has the most polish and pizzazz, perfect looks and fabulous hair, the ornery old bald foul mouthed drunk who’s willing to put his balls on the line and to tell the enemy to eat a dick doesn’t stand a chance at election.
Hell, even Churchill didn’t. Once his big balls one the war, his reward was to be thrown out of office. But, he was able to walk away knowing he and his balls had stood up for what was right.
Worthy of Oscars all around but will probably lose to the movie about the fish fucker.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Rent it today. Props to the women behind the man, i.e. his wife Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) who reigned him in and got him to focus on shit. Meanwhile, scenes with his personal secretary, Elizabeth Layton (Lilly James) who has to undergo the stress of taking Churchill’s cigar smoke cough laden, booze fueled, mumbling rants and putting them into actual words to be typed and dispatched are particularly touching.