Oh yeah – back into movie reviews after a two week hiatus. Been a bit quiet lately after hospital – had to cancel a few screenings and then for a few large movies I never got press invites – such a fickle bunch these movie PR peeps 🙂 – but not from the awesome peeps at Transmission Films – they sent me along to THEIR FINEST just before hospital and I had a ball. Went out to dinner with my adopted Granny and viewed this British War Comedy in the beautiful grand theatre at the Randwick Ritz. We attended the press and invited screening and it was great but the screening they held the next week was even better – Bill Nighy himself attended and did a Q and A session – I would have died – love him!!
THEIR FINEST PLOT:
The year is 1940, London. With the nation bowed down by war, the British ministry turns to propaganda films to boost morale at home. Realizing their films could use “a woman’s touch,” the ministry hires Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) as a scriptwriter in charge of writing the female dialogue. Although her artist husband looks down on her job, Catrin’s natural flair quickly gets her noticed by cynical, witty lead scriptwriter Buckley (Sam Claflin). Catrin and Buckley set out to make an epic feature film based on the Dunkirk rescue starring the gloriously vain, former matinee idol Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy). As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and their colorful cast and crew work furiously to make a film that will warm the hearts of the nation.
WHAT I LOVED:
THEIR FINEST is a splendid light-hearted comedy with more intelligence than we deserve. It could happily suite the entire family and manages to have a comedy in the middle of the war with bombs going off and people dying but never diminishes the importance of the heartbreak of war. It also manages at the same time to completely take the piss at the propaganda machine and the importance the government places on it.
THEIR FINEST is a wonderful look at film-making at the time, especially from the writer’s point of view. Based on the novel and written for the screen by Gabbie Chiappe (EASTENDERS writer) I can only imagine how much fun they had writing about writers. Director Lone Scherfig (ONE DAY, THE RIOT CLUB) delivers a fun movie that never takes itself seriously but manages to come off as one of the best comedies of the year. And it does it all effortlessly.
Scherfig is helped out by a tremendous cast. I love Gemma Arterton (QUANTUM OF SOLACE, THE BOAT THE ROCKED). She has a quiet strength and a beautiful presence on the screen. I didn’t even recognise Sam Claflin (THE HUNGER GAMES – the last three of them), he has such an incredible chameleon-like presence going from teenage heartthrob to serious much older looking actor. I think they need to get an Errol Flynn movie made soon so he can star!
Then there is Bill Nighy, a man who makes acting look so easy and who steals the screen whenever he is in front of the lens. I worship this man and his timing is flawless. Even when not acting he is hysterical……
When asked what his reactions were to being cast for the part of Ambrose Hilliard, Nighy said: “They were looking for someone to play a chronically self-absorbed actor in his declining years, and they thought of me, which is something that’s easier to process on some mornings rather than others.”
THE REST OF THE CAST:
And you thought that cast was good – don’t forget there is also smaller roles for Richard E Grant and Jeremy Irons. You won’t be disappointed.
WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE:
There was one thing I didn’t like about the movie. The relationship Catrin (Arterton) had with Jack, her unwed husband. It was just pointless and detracted from the main plot. She could have been single, she could have lost a husband in the war, whatever. I just failed to see the purpose of the man in the final story besides an attempt at a love triangle romance. Perhaps it was an item lost in the transition from novel to movie but big boo to it.
There was one other thing that happened close to the end of the movie that I can’t talk about here – I just couldn’t fathom the necessity of it. That is all I will say because I can’t give a major spoiler.
This is a movie to take your parents and/ or grandparents to. It is beautifully filmed and comically subtle and intelligent. It is hysterical and will also make you shed a couple of tears. At times THEIR FINEST felt more like a movie from the era they were portraying, a film with heart and a message free from studio beancounters. In all honesty you could just go and see this for Bill Nighy and it would still be marvellous. It might not move mountains with its message but it will put a heartwarming smile on your dial.
Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. ** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.