It’s 1940 England. Neville Chamberlain has just been voted out as Prime Minister and Winston Churchill has been elected to replace him. Reluctantly. Europe is under siege by Germany, led by Adolph Hitler. This is actual history… These are facts. Darkest Hour is the behind-the-scenes story of the British Parliament’s deliberations leading up to World War II.

Story: Because this is actual history, it can’t be judged by the content of the details, but, has to be judged by the way the details are revealed. How do you tell those facts so that they are compelling to the viewer? While I’ve seen other historical accounts of British events in this period, this telling is not one of the standouts.

I did not find this version engaging, thought provoking or nostalgic. The only moment in this film that gave me pause was when Winston Churchill said to Parliament, “We are at war with Germany.” It was otherwise just a series of scenes with old white Englishmen talking in a room.

Performances: Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill looks the part. No doubt. You can’t see even a speck of Gary Oldman in the character. He delivers the lines with confidence and shed a bit of light on Churchill as an individual. But, this is another example of being nominated for an Oscar because of the physical transformation of the character and not for the performance.

It was a great performance, but, there are at least two other performances that did not rely solely on the look AND delivered performances worth pause. This is a performance absolutely deserving of an Oscar nomination, but, given the field, it is not the true winner.

Visual: 1940’s England has been done so many times, if you get this wrong, you shouldn’t be in cinematography. Luckily, the look of this film is what should be winning awards. Gary Oldman is absolutely transformed. The streets of London are exact. Even the dull backdrop that is the many cabinet rooms where the bulk of the scenes take place look like dark wood clad libraries and parlors. Costume design and Cinematography get an A+…

Rating: But this film overall gets a C+ from me. It’s average at best in its telling. Go back to The King’s Speech or The Crown for more interesting stories from the same time period. I didn’t find Darkest Hour engaging and would have been better off seeing Dunkirk instead. See Dunkirk instead…