Thursday, 20 April 2017

Their Finest

By Brett Haynes 21/04/17

Score: 8/10

World War 2 nostalgia (if that even a thing) seems to be at an all time high. From November 2016 to now, we’ve had 5 films (with the Zookeepers Wife hitting cinemas next week) centred on the conflict. Their Finest looks at the conflict from a propaganda point of view.

It’s 1940 and London is in the middle of the Blitz. America is yet to join the war and France has just fallen to Nazi occupation. Women are not just an important key on the home front but also needed to encourage their men to fight. Catrin (Gemma Arterton) is our main character that is signed up by the ministry of Information to write the women’s slop (talk).

That changes when she is assigned to work on a big budget wartime propaganda flick based on the rescue at Dunkirk. The film is based around two sisters who assisted with the rescue.

She is joined by no nonsense Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) who you can tell right away is going to be the love interest. He swings between sweet and charming to jealous and angry, often arguing and insulting Catrin before making up for it. The film makes Catrin a feminist by 40’s standards while the male characters do have respect for her; their misogyny often comes through.

Her partner (Jack Hudson) is the worst insulted that a woman should make the money to help feed the house. He is a struggling artist who political associations have seen him disowned by his family.

The best part of this film is reserved for Bill Nighy. Nighy plays Ambrose Hilliard, a has been actor who believes every role is beneath him. Nighy plays the role as shamelessly as possible. He’s a show off who never pays for anything (even charity) and even gets outraged that the war has stopped him getting a descent waiter.

Surprisingly Their Finest is a feminist film given a WW2 setting. The hero of the propaganda film has to be a bloke (being the period) but both Lily and Rose save the troops and even save the boat from German advancement. Catrin is also not your typical female character you would see in a film set at this time being independent. The cinematography really allows you to get a feeling of the Blitz and while we never get any wide shots of a bombed out London, we do get the feeling of unknowing, that anywhere could be hit next.

Their Finest also in its own way shows the power of film to move people and to inspire them. That film is made by events and the surrounding environment and is beyond the control of any one individual. Something that is present throughout Their Finest.

Images owned by BBC Films

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