So you know all the stuff that was going on offscreen during Dunkirk? That’s centerstage in Darkest Hour, a historical drama that observes British higher-ups during a decisive moment in 1940. Most especially, it focuses on Winston Churchill, who had been Prime Minister less than a month when the evacuation of Dunkirk was executed. But that unlikely event—300,000 trapped British troops ferried across the English Channel from France—is merely one piece of Darkest Hour.
Losing track of narrative beats is a terrible sin in expensive screenwriting classes, but not so important to actual movies. Here is a modest demonstration. The plot devices in this sequel are so stale that the movie itself loses interest in them halfway through its dawdling 122 minutes—and this is a good thing. By that time the contrivances of Ol Parker’s script have done their duty, and we can get to the element that turned the film’s 2011 predecessor into a surprise hit: hanging around with a group of witty old pros in a pleasant location. There are many worse reasons for enjoying movies.
In the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a group of elderly British expats in India found themselves warming to the charms of a dilapidated inn. Now the hotel’s hyperactive manager Sonny (Dev Patel, from Slumdog Millionaire) is planning his marriage—and wants to add a second establishment to build his success.