Their Finest (2017)
Critic Consensus: Carried along by a winning performance from Gemma Arterton, Their Finest smoothly combines comedy and wartime drama to crowd-pleasing effect.
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as Catrin Cole
as Ambrose Hilliard / Uncle Frank
as Tom Buckley
as Ellis Cole
as Carl Lundbeck / Brannigan
as Roger Swain
as Raymond Parfitt
as Phyl Moore
as Gabriel Baker
as Secretary of War
as Sammy Smith
as Sophie Smith
as Wyndham Best / Johnnie
as DorisCleavely / Lily
as Angela Ralli-Thomas / Rose
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Critic Reviews for Their Finest
Stories to inspire a nation have long made up a sizable percentage of Hollywood schlock, and Their Finest deserves credit for exploring a woman's role in such an effort.
Although the narrative for Their Finest occasionally rambles ... it is by-and-large a stirring drama that incorporates lighter moments with scenes of deeply felt tragedy.
Drenched in a sweet nostalgia that only very rarely tips into sentimentality.
"Their Finest" is a charming and thoughtful movie, about people making a charming and thoughtful movie.
Could've been 'War, Actually' - but this witty, sophisticated and unexpectedly sober romcom never falls into the obvious traps.
Audience Reviews for Their Finest
"They don't make movies like they used to ..." goes the common complaint, but here is a work that directly contradicts that. Set in wartime Britain, a woman gets hired to work on a inspirational movie about women during the war. Drenched in nostalgia for a simpler time it mostly succeeds insofar as romcoms go.
Movies about making movies tend to lend themselves to a bit more depth. Paralleling the act of creation with the creation itself gives a level of self-awareness that can elevate a film. This is certainly the case in "Their Finest", a decidedly classy production. Gemma Arterton, an actress more commonly seen in the US in big budget action roles, gives one of her more reserved performances as a screenwriter for the British film industry during WWII. She is hired on by the Ministry of Information to write for a film about Dunkirk to encourage US involvement in the war and raise morale in Britain. Coping with her personal life and her rarely attained position amidst a war is arduous, and you feel her triumphs and losses in a story that rides the line between comedy, war drama, romance, and meta-narrative. There are plenty of "you-go-girl" moments bolstering the theme of female empowerment. Joining her on her journey is Bill Nighy as an hilariously pompous aging actor coming to terms with the future. They both face the problems of war in their quest for purpose, becoming examples of the dignified resolve that defined the British people during those dire years. The biggest surprise is how effectively the movie within the movie motivates and informs the emotional tone of these arcs. I got choked up by the end, even with the schmaltzy throwback acting style. Ultimately, "Their Finest" serves as a great reminder why we go to movies: not for reality but for the truth.
Their Finest (not to be confused with Their Finest Hours, even though this is based on a book called Their Finest Hour and a Half) is a disarmingly sweet and poignant true story that resonates with empowerment and the power of creativity. Set at the start of WWII, the British film industry is trying to make ends meet as well as provide morale boosts to the public. Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton, her best performance yet) goes in for a copywriting job and walks out a hired screenwriter, pegged to write the "women's parts." Thanks to the depleted workforce, Catrin has an opportunity she never would have otherwise and she blossoms under the crucible of creative collaboration. This was one aspect of the movie that I was very taken with, as a writer and screenwriter myself, the natural progression of creativity, solving a problem, finding a solution, and the elation that follows. The complications keep coming, first from the British film office who need the movie to be inspirational, then from the divergences from the true story of a pair of French girls who stole their uncle's boat to rescue soldiers at Dunkirk, then from working with American producers who insist on an American hero who can't act, and then from natural calamities of scheduling, casting, and oh yeah, the bombing and blitzes that could obliterate everyone. The movie is alive with conflict and feeling and the sweet story of a woman finding her sense of empowerment in the arts. The movie-within-the-movie is filmed to period appropriate techniques, and Bill Nighy is effortlessly amusing as an aging actor still fighting for some scrap of respect in an industry ready to forget him. The insights into the different stages of film production were fun and illuminating. I appreciated that the war isn't just something in the background but a constant. It upsets the order, takes lives, and is a striking reminder why these people are doing what they're doing. The film also rhapsodizes the power of the arts, and in particular cinema, in a way that feels reverent without being overly sentimental or self-congratulatory. A great collection of characters is assembled as a ramshackle sort of family with a mission, and the movie drives right into one payoff after another, lifting your spirits and warming your heart. There is a sudden plot turn that will likely disappoint many in the audience eager for a simple happy ending, but I almost view it as industry satire on the difference between American and European cinema tastes. Their Finest is a small gem with sympathetic characters trying their finest and achieving something great. It's a rich story that deserves its moment in the spotlight and I'd advise seeking it out if possible. Nate's Grade: B+
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