Release Date: April 14, 2017
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, and Bill Nighy
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: Screenplay by Gaby Chiappe. Based on the novel by Lissa Evans
Producers: Stephen Woolley, Amanda Posey Finola Dwyer, Elizabeth Karlsen
With London emptied of its men now fighting at the Front, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is hired by the British Ministry as a “slop” scriptwriter charged with bringing “a woman’s touch” to morale-boosting propaganda films. Her natural flair quickly gets her noticed by dashing movie producer Buckley (Sam Claflin) whose path would never have crossed hers in peacetime. As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and a colorful crew work furiously to make a film that will warm the hearts of the nation. Although Catrin’s artist husband looks down on her job, she quickly discovers there is as much camaraderie, laughter and passion behind the camera as there is onscreen.
I enjoy British comedies, for the most part. I think it’s the accent, makes regular humor seem high-brow. And I adore Bill Nighy in all things. He is, through and through, a likable character. So, I was really looking forward to seeing Their Finest, a British dramedy about the making of a movie surrounding the events at Dunkirk during World War II.
I thoroughly enjoyed Their Finest. Everything about it, other than the title, was great. What were people thinking when they called this film “Their Finest”? Am I right? Okay. We got that out of the way, my only gripe. The rest of this review will be about how much I enjoyed the rest of the film, about the making of a film. The plot felt original. I know this is a remake of an older film, but it still felt original. I love that the script divulges all of the movie conventions “necessary” for the making of a good movie, concepts like a funny script, significant roles for females, an all-American hero, a tragedy, etc., and then, uses those conventions in both the movie about the making of a movie and the other movie. If the audience listened, the first few minutes of the film divulged all of the plot conventions that would be featured in both of the movies. I loved it. Seemed very smart.
The whole film felt smart. It tackles and comments on hot-button political issues without being overtly political. It questions disparities between men and women, but it doesn’t pick a side. It’s a war-time movie that displays many of the tragedies of the War, and still appreciates that War for the opportunities given to Catrin and Ambrose.
The cast is awesome. I already gushed about Nighy (as Ambrose Hilliard), but Their Finest also stars Gemma Arterton (as Catrin Cole), Sam Claflin (as Tom Buckley) and Jake Lacy (as Carl Lundbeck). The cast had wonderful chemistry. Each character was nicely flawed and relatable. I appreciated that Arterton was written as a quick-witted problem-solver, quietly coming to the rescue of many complications in the movie. Arterton and Claflin were perfect as love interests. I could have watched another two hours just on Catrin and Tom. Truth be told, I could have watched another two hours of Catrin and Ambrose, or just about any of the other characters.
Their Finest is witty and smart. And I love the strong female roles. Anyone that enjoys films about the entertainment industry will enjoy it. Those who like historical films will like it, too. The film looked great on the big screen, and several audience members stuck around after to discuss several of the movie’s themes. See Their Finest on the big screen, expanding from limited release.