Rob Reviews "Their Finest"
OK, young people. History lesson time…
There was once a time where humans could not get their information as quickly as it happened. In ancient times, we had to rely on newspapers, television news once a day, and even things called “newsreels” that accompanied movies. During war time, there were even films we saw that told us stories about what was going on in faraway lands as the fight for freedom raged on a half a world away. Or at least what the studios wanted us to believe. These were not necessarily propaganda films, but they didn’t always tell the entire truth either. With World War II as its framework, Lissa Evans’ novel “Their Finest Hour and a Half” tells the tale of a female screenwriter in London tasked to help tell one of these stories and it is now a feature film from Danish director of “An Education” Lone Scherfig, shortening its title to simply “Their Finest”.
Gemma Arterton plays the central character Catrin Cole, who after interviewing a set of twins who attempt a rescue in Dunkirk, embellishes a bit to write a script for the British Ministry of Information’s Film Division. Teamed up with Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), they fight through re-writes, odd casting, and even the ego of an actor who refuses to believe in the undefeated streak of Father Time (Bill Nighy) to try to make a film that will lift up the spirits of the British people as they are continually bombed by the Germans.
This is one of those films whose tone could go extreme in either direction, but it really doesn’t. There is a great balance of humor and emotion that kept me fully engaged with it from beginning to end as it told a story that on some levels parallels the story within its story. Clocking in at just under two hours, it sits right about where it should and for those of you that are longtime readers (and listeners) of my film reviews, take note: my watch broke on my way to this screening and it didn’t freak me out to not have it watching “Their Finest”. So take from that what you may.
From a performance standpoint, this cast gives about what is expected from them, with Arterton carrying the weight with relative ease and a supporting cast that not only keeps her in the limelight but provides some great moments themselves, like Claflin, “The Office” cast member Jake Lacy as an add-on actor that can’t act, Eddie Marsan as the agent who has a soft spot for Nighy’s Ambrose Hilliard and even a cameo by one of the great actors of our time that had me smiling.
While “Their Finest” is not one of those films that will have people lined up around the block to get in and enjoy its fine work, it will do well for itself because of what it is: a fictionalized account of stories that could have believably happened in a time where the powers that be did everything they could to keep their people believing in the war effort and that they will win. I truly enjoyed this film and hope it gets the chance to be out there for a mass audience so everyone has the same chance to enjoy it as well!