Having lived in Italy for two years I am immediately drawn to films shot there; and this one, by director Ridley Scott, was no exception. Add to that the intrigue of the story – based on fact – about a globally profiled Mafiosi kidnapping of a member of the richest family in the world, and this is a recipe for movie fairy dust in my eyes.


Scott re-tells the true story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973. Getty was the grandson of oil magnate J Paul Getty, the richest man in the world. He was also the man who stalled for five months before paying the ransom.

This story made headlines in 1973, but it made them again in 2017 even before the film was released because the actor who originally played J Paul Getty was Kevin Spacey, and accusations of his decades-long sexual misconduct surfaced not long after principal photography had wrapped. In light of the accusations, director Ridley Scott re-shot Kevin Spacey’s role, replacing him with Christopher Plummer. This is a pretty big deal in the film industry as the entire cast and crew had to be recalled.

After all the drama, the film has finally made it to the big screen with just 2-3 days’ delay and it’s had some mixed reviews. Some say that Plummer’s version of Getty isn’t as effective as Spacey’s would have been. That far from refusing to pay the ransom, his character seems like he could have been persuaded to give it up quite easily.  I disagree, I thought Christopher Plummer was amazing in his role and that it snapped into place easily with the rest of the film. His Oscar nomination is well deserved and I can’t imagine what Kevin Spacey would have brought to that role that Plummer didn’t deliver – and more.  


And he’s not the only one. There are some seriously good actors in this film.  I particularly enjoyed the bold and fulsome performances of Mark Wahlberg and Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher), who played John Paul Getty III and Michelle Williams as his mother, Gail Harris. I actually don’t understand why Michelle didn’t get nominated for an Oscar as she carried most of the film. After her son is kidnapped she is the one working to sway Getty to pay the ransom as her son’s captors become more and more vicious, eventually cutting off his ear in a scene so gruesome (but probably nowhere near the reality 45 years ago) I wretched repeatedly in the cinema.


Mega-director Ridley Scott is evident everywhere in this movie. He has really captured the colour and confidence of this beautiful country but also its ugly side with the Mafiosi.

This is a tense thriller running against a clock mixed with a cautionary tale about the perils and penalties of vast wealth and some very dark humour. It’s stylishly done – as you would expect from Ridley Scott. You definitely won’t fall asleep during this one.


Set in the early days of the Second World War, The Darkest Hour sees a newly-elected Winston Churchill take charge of a (so far) ill-managed war as the Nazis steadily take over western Europe. Britain’s newest prime minister must decide whether to negotiate a peace treaty or continue to fight one of the most formidable armies the world has ever seen.

You’ve probably noticed this film doing the rounds, if not for Gary Oldman alone. At the time of writing he has either won or been nominated for just about every award going for his star turn as the legendary Winston Churchill. The list includes the Oscars, Golden Globes and Baftas, among many others. The female casting was also superb, with Lily James (Cinderella) playing a blinder as Churchill’s secretary and Kristen Scott-Thomas giving a stellar performance as Clemmie, Churchill’s wife.


Churchill was a formidable statesman in so many ways, but this film is keen to show his true self with all of his failings. He smoked and drank to excess, but was also arrogant, gruff and disagreeable, characteristics which lost him both friends and allies in politics. It must be said that this is a war film without a huge amount of war in it. And it’s certainly fascinating to see an uncertain Churchill, trying to hold steadfast in the face of what would become the biggest conflict the planet has ever seen - before or since. But the movie also shows that his biggest conflict wasn’t necessarily with Hilter or Mussolini, but with Chamberlain and Lord Halifax who were scheming for a ‘Peace’ Treaty with Germany and all at once trying to undermine Churchill’s parliamentary and cabinet position. Hindsight proved that at least where Hitler was concerned, Churchill knew the cut of his jib.

I saw The Darkest Hour at around the same time as I was watching another great actor - John Lithgow - portray the great man on the Netflix series The Crown. (Which is unmissable, by  the way). Lithgow’s Churchill again scored him a clutch of awards and nominations. And while both men gave brilliant performances for such a complex character,  Lithgow, for me, had the edge. His performance was softer and showed a more vulnerable side - but then again he was mostly playing the victorious post-war Churchill, who no longer had to stand toe to toe with Adolf Hitler. The only real soft side of Churchill in The Darkest Hour is the scene (which I don’t think is factual) in which he takes to the Tube and touches base with some ‘real life’ folk, if only to justify his own beliefs about going to war. One also feels some sympathy for him in his ‘Black Dog’ moments of depression, however does it make me a bad person if I say he probably shouldn’t have been drinking through those. But who am I to judge, eh?

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The film is quite dark – both in name and in content, but also in the cinematography too, and the only way I can describe it is that it feels like the whole thing was filmed with the Instagram Stories ‘New York’ filter. And for someone who enjoys positive and bright art in general, this made me pay attention – art is supposed to stimulate and provoke, right?

Churchill was not a pleasant person up close and that certainly comes across in the film, but like the British public at the time, we are won over by his genius idea of sending civilian boats to Dunkirk to rescue 300,000 British soldiers fleeing the Nazis. This cemented his celebrity and to this day it holds that one of his biggest victories was actually in retreat. I couldn’t help wondering after I had seen the movie, how much more would he have achieved if he hadn’t smoked or drank his way through most of his days?


The Darkest Hour separates the myth from the man in Winston Churchill. Gary Oldman deserves every one of his nominations and I would happily bet he’ll walk away with an Oscar. How could he not, having given us a glimpse at a real titan of the 20th century?



As I was on holiday at the time of this movie premiere, so I sent F Words team member Debra (find her on Instagram @debra.wray) along in my place  - and she guest blogs her review here…

There’s nothing I love more than getting away with some of my best friends. If you’re like me, then I suggest you get your girls together and head to the cinema to watch “Girls Trip.”  For me it had all the laughs and the LOLs of a modern day girls’ trip.

The film has a strong cast featuring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish as the “Flossie Posse”, best friends from college who have grown apart over the years. Hall’s character Ryan Pierce is described as the “second coming of Oprah” who has a wildly successful public speaking and writing career alongside her husband Stewart.


Jada Pinkett Smith plays Lisa, a single mum of two, who lives with her overbearing mother and has fallen way out of the dating game. Queen Latifah is Sasha, a former highly regarded journalist who is now scraping the barrel as a gossip blogger with serious financial issues. Less well known Tiffany Haddish plays Dina. It’s hard to describe Dina, but she is someone you’d definitely want as a friend; she’s funny, fierce and loyal, but her temper will get her in trouble.


Ryan is invited to be the keynote speaker at Essence Festival in New Orleans, she sees this is the perfect opportunity to get the group back together for one massive weekend of drinking, debauchery and dancing. However, the trip doesn’t go to plan when it is revealed by Sasha that Ryan’s husband Stewart (Mike Colter) has been having an affair with an Instagram model called Simone. Obviously this doesn’t go to down very well with the ladies and they find the best way to deal with it is to go out and party the night away. Cue “The Hangover” style montages and hijinks. But this film, like “Bridesmaids”, has a whole lot of heart and you can see the camaraderie between the lead actresses which makes their friendship and connection the best part of the film. Jada Pinkett-Smith’s character getting back into the world of sex and dating with a younger man is one of my favourite laugh out loud moments.


Haddish’s character Dina provides the bulk of the laughs, she is the wildest of the Flossy Posse and is not ready to let go getting “white girl wasted.” She manages to steal the film away from her other wildly talented co-stars. The film has many gross-out, laugh-out-loud moments which have been rare in female-driven comedies of late, plus there are many celebrity cameos which keep the film ticking over. I won’t give them all away, but P.Diddy’s cameo is unforgettable.


Their weekend becomes a journey of self-discovery, where friendships are tested in a predictable way - but the charm of this film lies with the raunchy lead characters. They are women you’d definitely want to party with, gossip with and be best friends with. Fiercely loyal and hilarious at the same time, you know they would always be there for you.


The movie is definitely one for the ladies, as at times the humour is as explicit as it is hilarious. It may not win any Academy Awards but it is one you’ll giggle about for days after. You don’t mind the film’s long run time as, by the end, the real heart of the story shines through - the importance of friendship. By the time the credits roll, you’ll be booking a girls’ trip of your own.