Sunday, May 7, 2017

Movie: Their Finest

Their Finest:  a movie within a movie.  The year is 1940 and the place is Britain’s Ministry of Information following the British military disaster at Dunkirk.  The basic storyline of this 117-minute movie:  Britain’s propaganda office needs to create an uplifting film to boost the morale of the British people and, as it turns out, to also encourage the United States to join Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany.  The screenplay by Gaby Chiappe is based on Lissa Evans’ novel Their Finest Hour and a Half.  The film is directed by Lone Scherfig.  The story opens with Catrin Cole (Gemma Artenton) being summoned for an interview at the Ministry of Information.  She assumes the position is secretarial but, as she learns, her assignment is to write “the slop”,  a reference to women’s dialogue, for a Ministry sponsored war propaganda film.  Their Finest pointedly emphasizes the extent of sexism that was present in 1940’s work environments and personal relationships.  In fact, the role of Phyl (Rachael Stirling) appears to have been created specifically to offer a feminist viewpoint.  After being hired and following a run-in with actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), Catrin is assigned to research a news story about twin sisters who supposedly successfully sailed their father’s boat to Dunkirk to assist in the evacuation.  It turns out that the twins’ real story was not as presented in the newspaper, nevertheless, Catrin chooses to run with the newspaper’s version of the story and the film making beings.   As the tale unfolds, a love story, which was not obvious from the introduction of the primary characters, develops.  The English cast, including Jeremy Irons, Helen McCrory and Richard Grant, is excellent.  To amplify the film’s appeal to Americans, the Jeremy Irons character orders that a handsome American war hero pilot character be added to the film’s story.  The pilot is played by Jake Lacey, who is excellent in his role as a person having no acting ability.   Bill Nighy offers a star performance as Ambrose Hilliard, an elderly actor who has never grown beyond seeing himself as the young detective who starred in pre-WW II films.  The combination of an excellent script and actors giving superb performances make for a most enjoyable film.  There is more comedy, primarily through Nighy, and tenderness than you would have expected based on the film’s opening scenes.  The Artenton character, Catrin Cole, grows on you as do her co-workers.  Their Finest is an intelligent and fun film.


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