The newest film from Lone Scherfig (An Education), Their Finest is surely one of the most British films ever produced. And that’s not just because the film is about a Ministry of Information team braving the Blitz to produce a film about the evacuation at Dunkirk. It’s called a romantic comedy, but an American release could never embrace this film’s downright droll sense of humor. It is delightfully dry, embracing the stiff upper lip mentality wholeheartedly.
The delightful Gemma Arterton leads as Catrin Cole, a copywriter who finds work rewriting propaganda film dialogue to appeal better to a female audience. Eventually this leads to her working on the aforementioned Dunkirk film, based on a true story of two twin sisters who absconded with their father’s boat to attempt to help with the invasion. Most of the film is concerned with the crafting of the script, and the budding romance with her fellow screenwriter Buckley (Sam Claflin). Another major thread is the story of Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), a former screen star in denial of his age and his stature as a serious actor.
On the whole, Their Finest is engaging enough, giving enough time to each plot, and ultimately commenting on the power of film and the opportunities women were affording when all of the young men were conscripted. But the leisurely pace makes it feel more like a condensed miniseries rather than a taut feature, and it might be too grim to be considered a comedy, and too light to be considered serious drama. That mix makes some of the events in the film surprising, and I would rather a film like this that makes unexpected choices.
Their Finest opens in Philly theaters today.
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights
as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.