Their Finest review: Lone Scherfig adapts Lissa Evans’ novel Their Finest Hour and a Half. The film receives its world premiere at TIFF ’16.
Their Finest review by Paul Heath, Toronto International Film Festival, 2016.
Their Finest is the latest film from Danish filmmaker Lone Sherfig (An Education), a wartime drama/ comedy led by Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy.
The film is essentially a romantic comedy set during the Blitz in wartime London where a group of filmmakers are looking for a new film to bring to the silver screen to boost morale. Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a “slop” scriptwriter is the one charged to come up with the next big screenplay, working directly with the British Ministry of Information’s Film Division. Catrin learns of the story of a couple of twin sisters who helped rescue soldiers after the retreat at Dunkirk, so travels to their home one the coast to meet them. Meanwhile, back in London, Catrin’s other half, meanwhile, is struggling to make ends meet and looks down on her new job with great disdain. Working with fellow writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), with whom she forms an immediate bond, Catrin soon sees herself as the main breadwinner, particularly when the film starts shooting when its star Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), a past-his-prime, pompous, though likeable actor chooses to only speak with her to work on his dialogue.
Based on the book Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans, Their Finest is actually a really enjoyable, well-crafted little British movie. Gorgeous to look at with impressive set design, the film captures your attention from the outset, largely due to the impressive work delivered by its key actors. Arterton is wonderful as Catrin, a striking, very strong woman carving her own path in life while being pushed and pulled by her over-bearing ‘husband’ Ellis (Jack Huston), while Claflin also provides his usual firm support – but it is Bill Nighy who once again captures every viewers attention in nigh-on every scene he’s in. He steals the limelight from all, including his leading lady in the film, but the two come together wonderfully during the film’s climactic scenes – truly one of the most memorable moments of the movie.
The film suffers from a few off-kilter plot beats late on – so major that I can’t reveal here, and there is one huge one about fifteen minutes from the end which seems so unnecessary that it nearly spoils the final reel.
You can’t help but like Their Finest though – from its constant on-set comedic antics – largely involving Nighy’s outlandish actor – to the wonderful dialogue sprinkled throughout and Arterton’s wonderful watch-ability. It’s really charming film which will definitely have you beaming as you leave the auditorium.
Their Finest review, TIFF ’16.
Their Finest will also play at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival.