Their Finest – a movie review
Released in theaters
- Feb, 2017
- 87% – Rotten Tomatoes Critics
- 81% – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Goers
- 75% – Roger Koehler
- Gemma Arterton
- Bill Nighy
- Sam Claflin
- Lone Scherfig
Official Movie Trailer
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
As I also explained in my review of the movie Gifted, we had a choice to see either this movie or Gifted. Although we have now seen both, and were pleased by both, we chose to see Their Finest first primarily because of its better rating by the Rotten Tomatoes movie critics – 87% to 64%. In the future I will also pay more attention to the Movie Goer ratings on Rotten Tomatoes as well. Gifted received 86% from Movie Goers – Their Finest received an 81%.
This movie is set in London in 1940 during the German bombing raids. This is a particularly devastating time for the British. They are being bombed heavily by Germany and the United States has remained isolated from the war effort. The British War Ministry wants to try and build up morale and also possibly encourage the Americans to be more aware of British sacrifice and heroism. They finance the development of a propaganda film to do just that. The film’s producers feel the movie needs more of a woman’s touch, particularly in dialogue, so they hire scriptwriter Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton). She works with the movie’s primary scriptwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and also with the film’s star – a self-possessed former matinee idol Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy).
That plotline may not make you immediately jump up and say “Wow, I have just got to see THAT movie!” Nor did it for Deborah and me. But we found the film to be very well done. There is an interesting relationship that develops between Catrin and Tom. Hilliard also reluctantly develops an admiration for Catrin as well.
The movie is also very much about the making of a movie, within a movie. At the end of the movie, you get to see parts of the finished movie and by that time, you have a very good idea of what went into the behind-the-scenes production of what you are finally seeing in the finished film.
Gemma Arterton is quite good and very likable in her lead role. The movie has a nice, but not overwhelming, combination of both elements of comedy mixed in with scenes of wartime London. Catrin’s contribution to the movie is the suggestion to make it about the efforts of twin girls to take their father’s fishing boat and set off to rescue British soldiers trapped at Dunkirk. In reality, the boat failed and the girls were never able to reach Dunkirk. But the producers finally realized that it was the spirit of what the girls, and what many others, tried to accomplish, that needed to be brought to the film. Catrin brought both life and reality to the voices and emotions of the twins – a female perspective that had been lacking in previous propaganda films.
I have tried, but I have not been able to confirm that the film is based upon a supposed “true story”. But just as the fictional movie, within this movie, is a movie “based upon” a true story, so too is this actual movie. In an otherwise desperate time, Britons flocked to the movies in droves during the 1940 bombings in the hope of some respite from their miserable and frightening daily existence. However, the propaganda films often contained caricatures of upper class British women whom were often literally laughed off of the screen by their audiences. These films were definitely in need of a woman’s touch to bring reality to the portrayal of women. Catrin is a composite of the women scriptwriter’s who eventually righted that wrong.
In short, I strongly recommend this movie.
About the stars …
- Gemma Arterton. I was not aware of having seen Gemma Arterton before in a movie. But I have found that she has been involved in about 20 or so feature films, and some TV since 2007. She appeared in the remake of Clash of the Titans (2010) and also in the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace (2008).
- Bill Nighy. As a fan of the Harry Potter movie series, I recognized Bill Nighy from his role as Rufus Scrimgeour in the Deadly Hallows: Part I. Nighy has a long movie career that includes about 50 feature films. Others you may recognize him from are Love Actually, two of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Constant Gardener and the remake of Total Recall.
- Sam Claflin. Sam was also not immediately recognizable to me but was familiar none-the-less. That is likely the result of his role as Finnick Odair in all three of the Hunger Games movies. He also appeared in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but not in one in which Bill Nighy also appeared.
The following You Tube videos show a couple of short videos relating to the making of the movie and also to interviews with the stars.