Their Finest is one of a seemingly numerous number of World War 2-related films being released this year. However, it is one that takes the attention away from fighting and politics and toward the ‘ordinary’ people’s war effort. It follows Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), a one-time secretary who finds herself writing propaganda war films alongside the arrogant screenwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin).
This is a film that is partly about film-making; dealing with demanding actors, script re-writes and new characters requested by the powers that be. However it is also about the grit that was needed by the ‘home front’ during the Blitz, and the important roles that women played despite losing husbands, friends and children. The script, adapted by Gaby Chiappe from Lisa Evans’ novel, manages to steer clear of most World War Two cliches which was refreshing.
As Catrin, Arterton is an endlessly engaging presence and her performance is a really nice centrepiece for the action of the film. Claflin makes Buckley infuriating, and yet also a character that you (like Catrin) can’t help but warm too. The film is frequently stolen, however, by Bill Nighy as Ambrose Hilliard, a one-time famous actor who is refusing to accept his age. It is a typical Nighy performance, but he is an actor that it is impossible to not like, and most of the humour of the film comes from him. There is great supporting performances from the rest of the cast, including Richard E. Grant as Roger Swain who is running the Ministry of Information and who has some impeccable eye-rolls, Jake Lacy as a heroic American RAF pilot who cannot act at all and Rachael Stirling as the impeccable dressed boss-lady Phyl Moore.
If you fancy going to see a really charming, beautiful looking film, which does not end the way you might expect (curse you Lone Scherfig for forever messing with my heart), I would recommend Their Finest.