Sunday, 30 April 2017

Their Finest Film Review

I caught Their Finest last week, directed by Lone Scherfig. A rip roaring but sensitive tale of the dark days of the war in Europe. When plucky Britain stood alone facing the might of Germany with her tight grip on Europe. Looking to the United States for Uncle Sam's help.

The first of many films this summer on WWII, but it's the funniest one you'll see.

Gorgeous Gemma Arterton's Catrin is invited to an interview at the Ministry of Information, after Sam Claflin's Tom spotted her work wrapped around his chips. Sam is a young Toby Stephens and just as talented. Watch out for him starring in My Cousin Rachel.

Catrin is recruited to script the short propaganda films playing in cinemas between the main features. And with 30 million attending the cinema they need some added zing to keep the audience entertained. Catrin's job is to write the girly stuff, or slop as it is called. And she thought she was coming for a job as a secretary!

Catrin is 'married' to a gritty war artist Ellis, played by handsome Jack Huston who was injured in the Spanish Civil War, and disinherited for his political views by his family. Meeting him in Wales while he was painting, Catrin came with him to London for love. And her job pays the bills. But he wants her to go back to Wales with him where he is having an exhibition.

Colleagues in the film division include boss Richard E. Grant and the wonderful Rachael Stirling. As the lipstick lesbian she gets the best clothes and trades pithy one-liners with Tom. And getting a second shot at acting fame in the war is the scrawny and past his prime haughty actor Ambroise Hilliard, played by the terrific Bill Nighy. Living on a big hit he had years ago, his poor agent Sammy, played by Eddie Marsan, has a hard job keeping his client in work. Sammy's sister is sexy femme fatale Helen McCrory.

Morale is low in Britain after the recent retreat from Dunkirk. But a news item about two young girls borrowing their father's boat, and sailing to pick up the soldiers on the beaches, suggests a film that could lift the nation.

Catrin is sent to interview the sisters but sadly the engine failed before they made it to France. They got the boat working and took home some soldiers hanging onto an overladen tug. Hardly the heroic story filling the papers. The papers saw them docking with the boat and well they just went along with it.

Omitting this part Catrin convinces the team that the story is true, and it's given the go ahead. Catrin gets to stay in London while husband Ellis goes to Wales. She is seconded to the scriptwriting team with Sam and Raymond, played by Paul Ritter. Sensing the film may interest the Americans, Jeremy Irons, hamming it up as Minister For War, adds an RAF pilot to the acting crew. A Norwegian American beefcake played by Carol's Jake Lacy. Lovely to look at with his technicolor teeth. But he cannot act. And then the fun really starts.

I loved the film. Gemma Arterton was perfect as Welsh lass Catrin, picking her way through the bombed out London of the blitz, at a time when women were needed to step up and help the war effort. Adapted from the novel Their Finest Hour And A Half by Lissa Evans, the film has plenty of laughs with unexpected sadness. And is a fascinating look at the magic of how films were made.

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