Their Finest

Their Finest


The spirit of the nation is in her hands.

A British film crew attempts to boost morale during WWII by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg. Stars Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy. Based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans.... More

"Catrin Cole (Arterton) is a "slop" scriptwriter, charged with bringing a female perspective to war films produced by the British Ministry of Information's Film Division. Her current project is a feature inspired by stories of British civilians rescuing soldiers after the retreat at Dunkirk. Catrin's artist husband looks down on her job, despite the fact that it's paying the rent. At least lead scenarist Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) appreciates her efforts While on location in Devon, Catrin begins to come into her own and earn the respect of her peers. She's the only crewperson that Ambrose Hilliard (Nighy), a past-his-prime yet nonetheless pompous actor, will talk to." (Toronto International Film Festival)Hide

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Flicks Review

If La La Land is America’s sparkly love letter to the golden age of 1950s Hollywood, then Their Finest is Britain’s stiff-upper-lip pat on the back to those who kept calm and carried on making art in the dull fog of WWII. Gemma Arterton plays the everyday heroine Catrin Cole, hired by the Ministry of Information to “write the slop” (women’s dialogue, lol) for their latest epic propaganda film tasked with inspiring the nation.... More

Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education, One Day), Their Finest has much more than stock period drama. Fans of film will love the hokey 40s re-enactments, and industry pros will nod sagely at the non-stop sexism, undoubtedly drawn from the experiences of the women-strong team behind the film. Luckily Arterton’s Cole can bite back, her sass bouncing well off her dashingly droll colleague Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin). And as for Bill Nighy, it should come as no surprise that his desperate has-been diva Ambrose Hilliard tears the house down in every scene.

Their Finest is a romance in every sense, as infatuated with storytelling as it is with devastating matters of the heart. The film swoons without ever becoming too meta or sappy, with the war-torn streets keeping the story grounded in a horrific historical context. It’s a gentle, optimistic reminder that people will continue to make art and fall in love even when the world is burning, as relevant now as in 1940. “Every now and again” muses Buckley on films “you make one worth the hour and a half.” Their Finest is worth yours.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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Pretty cool movie and good timing with Dunkirk coming out at similar time

BY cinemusefilm superstar

Their Finest (2016) is one of several recent films that remediate women’s conspicuous absence from war history. It stands tall in the war film genre, as well as in period drama and feminist film. With beautiful cinematography, it nostalgically evokes the tensions and deprivations of London in 1940. At the same time, it provides an instructive insight into the making of a war propaganda movie in the early days of film history.

The two-part plotline is based on the experiences of young... More Welshwoman Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) who unexpectedly lands a movie scriptwriting job in the British Ministry of Information. The first half of Their Finest is about the planning of a movie for boosting morale and support for the war; the second is its actual filming. The thread of continuity is Catrin’s relationships; first with her war-damaged artist lover Ellis Cole (Jack Huston) and then her senior scriptwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin). Catrin has been hired to write “the slops”, a term used to describe women’s interests and views. In wartime, things change unexpectedly and the movie shifts from an emphasis on women, to a general rallying call to the nation, and then to an appeal to America to join the war. The casting of stars shifts from heroines to a past-his-prime actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) to an American fighter pilot who turns out to have appalling acting skills. By the end of Their Finest, we are watching the finished movie being screened in public having witnessed how it was made and the effect it has on the people involved.

The making of a war movie within a war film is an original and clever cinematic construction. The storyboarding, casting, and filming of the movie provide self-reflexive insights into movie-making itself. This is a multi-genre film, combining war and filmmaking history, period drama and romance, but it’s inaccurate to call it a comedy. Most of the humour comes from Bill Nighy’s portrayal of the pompous British artistic classes and his fading light as an actor. In an otherwise well-directed film, Nighy often overshadows its star, Gemma Arterton, who is the film’s beating heart and champion for women. Nighy has that rare ability to fill any space into which he walks, but this means that the film’s excellent cast shine only when he is off screen.

There are many reasons for liking this film, including its originality, acting and filming. It poignantly captures the fragility of life in the London Blitz with detailed attention to nostalgic sets, costumes, and mannerisms of an era. The colour palette’s de-saturated tonality reflects the sombre mood of the nation and the narrative covers a lot of ground. It is ironic, however, that a film dedicated to recognising the role of women in history should be so under the comedic influence of a veteran male actor. Despite its efforts to be otherwise, this will be remembered as a Bill Nighy film. For many, that’s not a bad thing.Hide

This movie is about screen writing. It shows how a script drives the action and how screen writers interact and create characters and scenarios. Being a British movie the costumes, characters and acting are a cut above the usual Hollywood fare. The film portraits the precariousness of life in London during the Blitz well. A love story evolves as the movie's script unfolds, and both come to a shattering ending.

BY IanR nobody

Started well but really dragged. One just for the arty set I think..

BY christinec superstar

Am very drawn to period dramas but sadly this movie was destroyed by far too many slow, laboured scenes & dragging the story line out much longer than it should have been. Plus a classic case of one romantic matching being completely mismatched and unbelievable. Not even good actors can rescue the poor direction and dragged out plot. The first 20 mins were good then goes downhill into a trough from there.

Showing 5 of 5 reviews. See all reviews

The Press Reviews

  • Almost explicitly tailor-made for mums and grans – painfully so, in fact. Full Review

  • Inspiring, funny and genuinely romantic, Their Finest is a solid, refreshing crowd-pleaser. Full Review

  • Arterton brings grace and understatement to Catrin's gradual belief in herself and in the magic of movies, while Claflin reveals maturity and dry humour that will be a surprise for audiences who know him primarily from his Hunger Games role. Full Review

  • Genial and engaging with a fine sense of humour, it makes blending the comic with the serious look simpler than it actually is. Full Review

  • Love and laughter flow so naturally in "Their Finest" that it is almost (almost) easy to forget there's a war on. Full Review

  • Chiappe's screenplay, based on Lissa Evans' novel Their Finest Hour and a Half, unfortunately suggests that even someone as spirited as Cole can only find true worth in the reciprocated love of a man, and not her work. Full Review

  • A relentlessly charming romantic comedy that sees director Lone Scherfig ... finally expand the sensibilities she displayed with "Italian for Beginners" and "An Education" into a more commercial direction. Full Review

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