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It’s 1973. Oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) has amassed a fortune north of $1 billion, roughly making him the richest man in the world. His existence is a largely reclusive one outside of closed-door meetings and private trips to purchase some of the finest, most expensive art in the world — a hobby that has provided him with untold riches in valuables. It’s a life focused around the power of a name in addition to material items, which he claims never disappoint him like human beings; in contrast, they are exactly how they appear.
There is one common trait almost all gambling dramas share: they make the audience want to be the protagonist for the first half of the film only to retain roughly 1/3 of the same people by the time the credits roll. They seduce viewers by showing how lavish the lifestyle can be, showing the romanticism of a fast-living, purposeful existence until it all implodes on the main character as they wind up defeated, bloodied, and figuratively or literally left for dead. The brave that look past instances in the second half chalk up the events to the personal failures of the main character and assume that such ill-will won’t be the outcome of their fate. We’ll likely see a film about some of those brave souls in due time.
Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour takes place in May 1940, over the span of a couple weeks. It’s a tumultuous month for the United Kingdom as Winston Churchill takes over the role as Prime Minister after Neville Chamberlin (Ronald Pickup) is ousted for failure to secure the British empire as the threat of Nazism grows. Churchill and the monarch spend much of the film wrestling over the implications of waging an attack against Adolf Hitler’s forces or negotiating peace with them. For Churchill, the choice is easy; the Nazis have asserted themselves as a unit unafraid of violence, so the only logical response in his mind is one that takes military action to try to earn the upper-hand. Not lost on him, however, are the repercussions in the form of the deaths of young soldiers and the disdain King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) has for him.