In watching The Darkest Hour I was expecting to take away two – please, do me a great service and do not get hung up on the number – certainties. I knew I was going to enjoy Joe Wright. I knew I was going to enjoy Gary Oldman. How much and the extent of my enjoyment was entirely left up to them and what they put on the screen.
It’s a shame – for me – that I was not able to write this when it was fresh in my mind. I am only human, even if others disagree with me and believe I have super human powers. The truth is I do not, for I break all the time. I live in a constant state of delirious sleep-deprivation not to mention actual relaxation, and un-plugging of my brain. A lot of what I was going to write about Joe Wright is gone at the moment. I am sorry, Joe Wright. I cannot offer more at this time. There is only so much I can do and retain.
I want to mention this too, I am writing this one first because of what Joe Wright and Gary Oldman gave me in viewing the film. If for any reason there is any debate, or contest between the movies I write about. I chose to look beyond the smoking cigar and watched the performance. I am an extremely demanding audience. I am probably the worst audience a director, actor, producer, or anyone in the movie industry would want in the theater.
See, I knew I was going to enjoy Joe Wright because I have seen Pride and Prejudice more than once. I believe it to be one of the most different of the Pride and Prejudice’s. From the moment – No, I stopped myself just now, I was about to go on about Pride and Prejudice, but that is another movie. I don’t want to take anything away The Darkest Hour.
Joe Wright has an eye for beautiful. He creates it in every film. He creates moments in every film he makes. The running across the screen cut-aways – fantastic – it is a movie in itself. It is complete. It needs no beginning, no end, it exists on its own. Audibly fantastic.
Looking up from his computer screen, other than being a darker version of himself, I have no idea what else he looked like, for I did not see him as the altered version of himself trying to blend in with my surroundings. I saw beyond him. I saw him as he was, in that moment looking at me, before the actor took over and started working. Gary Oldman looked at me from the corner of his eye with an almost timid curiosity, is this going to work, how is this going to work, is she going to recognize me, what will she think of me?
You are going to hear this from me more often, perhaps to the great begrudging of others as I am constantly asked for words to define the moment, or a person, or a place, etc. Although some things defy words, can only be felt, and experienced. It was the briefest of glances. But, I saw him and knew him in that moment. However, as not much has changed since then, I was miserable. So, my experience, the experience of seeing others is controlled by how little I enjoy my present. But, do not forget or mistake me, I saw him, and I knew him.
What fun! I exclaimed this over and over while watching Gary Oldman in The Darkest Hour.
I will say this first because it is one of the first thing I noticed about Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. He must have loved and hated the experience. I could be wrong, and that is ok. However, what I saw was the joy of being able to portray a character. I saw the love and enjoyment he had for being a character. I knew this from watching him in other films because is there anything that Gary Oldman cannot act in? Nope. He is one of those great actors with ego he takes to the stage, then sheds his ego for the character. I love it. It is very rare.
He loved it, to be able to play such a character, and hated it for the bodily form he had to endure to play Winston Churchill. It must have been annoying and wearisome to be burdened with a heavy body – it is what I saw.
Being able to wipe the floor with someone.
This is what I say when I know with such certainty that there is no one greater than me in the room. I know what it feels like to be in front of an audience, or crowd, and perform, or audition knowing that no one is looking at anyone else other than me. To command complete attention. To fill the entire room with my presence. So, I know it when I see it in others, and I have seen other actors just wipe the floor with another actor. We all have.
Here is Gary Oldman in front of the camera, delivering a performance unlike any other. Yet, the best – for me – was not that he could wipe the floor with any of his fellow actors. Because he could have. He could have wiped the floor with any of them. The best part was watching Gary Oldman egging on his fellow actors, come on! Match me! Be here with me in this moment! Egging them on and cheering for them in the same moment! Fantastic! Scene after scene! Do you have any idea how fucking rare that is for an actor to purge ego for the greater good of the film, project, character, and audience?! I fucking do!
It was fucking fantastic to witness and watch! A battle not to compete, but to perform.
So, here is the thing. I have had this idea of writing film appreciations for more than a decade. Since, at the moment, it is killing me to write I am uncertain how much more I want to watch and write about. If, however, I do continue to watch and write – be prepared. For I want it all on the screen. I want everything an actor, director, writer, producer, every single person on the crew has to give, and then I want some fucking more. Do not let me see a cheapened, hollowed-out, imitation, or copy of a person, or character. I want all your blood, sweat, pain and agony, defeat, your tears, your burden, your joy, your sweet and simple, your fucking disgusting, your rage and compassion. Do not chicken-out on me. I want the expanse of your universe shoved down into that deepest well of truth we all have and hold onto, shove it down, then given with precision and purpose.
For I will take nothing less.