During the London Blitz of World War II, Catrin Cole is recruited by the British Ministry of Information to write scripts for propaganda films that the public will actually watch without scoffing. In the line of her new duties, Cole investigates the story of two young women who supposedly piloted a boat in the Dunkirk Evacuation. Although it proved a complete misapprehension, the story becomes the basis for a fictional film with some possible appeal. As Cole labors to write the script with her new colleagues such as Tom Buckley, veteran actor Ambrose Hilliard must accept that his days as a leading man are over as he joins the project. Together, this disparate trio must struggle against such complications such as sexism against Cole, jealous relatives, and political interference in their artistic decisions even as London endures the bombs of the enemy. In the face of those challenges, they share a hope to contribute something meaningful in this time of war and in their own lives.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
1930s/40s Technicolor cameras needed ridiculously large amounts of artificial light in order to get a good result (hence why most early three colour technicolor films were studio bound). Yet nowhere during the location shoots of this film do we see the huge arc lamps needed for Technicolor filming.. See more »
Their Finest is absolutely one of those "nice" films that might pass the time on a long-haul flight where your mind is distracted, or something an old couple might enjoy on a Sunday afternoon whilst cleaning up after a roast dinner. For that kind of film, it does it's job well.
That's OK if its a "Me Vs You" type of whimsy, but Their Finest could have been so much more. It felt like it would have some dignity, purpose and backbone, like The King's Speech, Hidden Figures or Suffragette, but sadly it didn't. Their Finest could have been about so much - a woman's struggle for recognition, the influence and responsibilities of propaganda and journalism, how the pressure and fear of war could drive creativity, art vs craft in terms of sacrificing truth or expression for the greater good of what a demoralised audience needs. But it didn't have the confidence to really tackle anything at all - it just bumbles along with a phoney theatricality and those typically self-conscious witticisms that British films seem to pride themselves on. Its ironic that the film they're making ends up seeming so much more emotional than the film we're seeing.
A huge flaw is the character/love interest played by Sam Caflin, whose acting is unbelievably wooden in all his films. A role that a younger Ewan McGregor, Hugh Grant or Tom Hollander would have nailed without thinking, but here it just falls flat. How the romance is handled, and ultimately resolved, is almost satirical for how ill-judged it is. Gemma Arterton just about manages, but I was craving some nuance and actual character depth. One saving grace is Bill Nighy who thankfully does know how to portray a character, even if its the same one he's always known for. I can't help but feel that his performance and comedy saves the film from being exposed for its complete lack of purpose or point.
Their Finest really is a disappointing hack film aimed at the Sunday afternoon crowd, that no one will remember in less than two years.
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