Review by Lauryn Angel
Lone Sherfig’s Their Finest is a charming dramedy set in World War II. Basically, it’s a movie about making movies, with a stellar cast that makes up for its somewhat predictable story.
The Ministry of Information’s film division, headed by Roger Swain (Richard E. Grant), is struggling to create propaganda films that are simultaneously inspiring and authentic. The ministry hires Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) to write “the slop” – women’s dialogue. Although the pay isn’t as good as that of her male colleagues, Catrin takes the job, because her husband, Ellis (Jack Huston), has been unable to sell his paintings. When Catrin is assigned to assist male writers Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and Raymond Parfitt (Paul Ritter), she gets a crash course in how movies are made. When the story of twin sisters who sailed to Dunkirk to rescue soldiers falls into their lap, the team leaps into action. And that’s when the fun really begins.
The ensemble cast is splendid. Arterton gives Catrin a quiet strength and resolve, and Claflin’s Buckly is both charming and exasperating. But it’s Bill Nighy as established thespian Ambrose Hilliard who steals the movie. Hilliard’s career is waning, and his days as a romantic lead are at an end. Hilliard is vanity and bluster masking wounded pride and more than a little fear. Nighy is well matched by Helen McCrory as Sophie Smith, who takes over as Hilliard’s agent when her brother is killed during an air raid.
While there are tragic moments in the film, it isn’t a downer. And while it is very funny – many lines of dialogue were drowned out by laughter – it’s not an out-and-out romp. It is, however, a satisfying film, balancing nostalgia with the much-prized quality of authenticity.
Their Finest arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD) and DVD on July 11.