With two theaters in town showing this film, I count myself lucky to have seen it. Unless it’s distributed elsewhere, you could be missing out on a fairly delightful film. Of course, had I written the ending to this story in any of my books, it would have been thrown against the wall by readers and trolls would have come out of the woodwork, one-starring me for revenge. Thankfully, I did not.
Their Finest is set in 1940 London, while citizens are dodging bombs, dead bodies, and curing everything with a hot cup of tea. Really — tea cures all of the world’s ills for the Brits. Nevertheless, the citizens who “keep calm and carry on” are looking for uplifting entertainment, which the British Ministry of Information wants to provide.
Starring Gemma Arterton (playing Catrin Cole), who I haven’t seen on screen since she came out of the bathroom wall as Elizabeth Bennett in Lost in Austen, is the leading lady and heroine of the film. She is a writer (got to love those writers!) who is discovered by Sam Claflin (playing Tom Buckley) another screenwriter. She is hired to help write a movie script that glorifies the Dunkirk evacuation based on a semi-true story of two young ladies who take their father’s boat to join in the rescue of stranded soldiers.
Catrin purports to be married to an aspiring artist, living in squalor in east London. She finally lands a job as the screenwriter, while he continues to pursue his career. Unable to fight in the war due to physical reasons, her other half at least helps in the cause, searching for survivors in bombed buildings.
The wonderfully talented Bill Nighy (as Ambrose Hilliard), who you just love to pieces in this role, plays an aging actor who accepts a part in the movie. His humor and attitude are the lighthearted points amidst some the realistic and horrific scenes of dropping bombs in London. You may remember him in I Capture the Castle.
The cast and crew go off to Devon to film the movie, later coming back to London to finish other scenes on set. Throughout the hours of screenwriting and working together with another writer, the three come up with a great film. In the meantime, Buckley begins to fall in love with Catrin, while her husband is off pursuing his artistic career with his first gallery showing.
Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin are a good romantic team onscreen, making the audience wonder if or when they would fall in love and how they could be together. Since I am not writing SPOILER here, I won’t go any further except to say bring your Kleenex.
The critics as a whole have been giving it fresh tomatoes, and the audiences seem to enjoy the film as well. Not many youngsters show up at these types of movies. I can attest that the moviegoers I sat with were mostly middle-aged or elderly.
The film is based off a novel written by Lissa Evans, first published in 2009 by Doubleday. Another talented writer has been given a film option, while I drool in jealousy. Excuse me, while I go fetch my copy of her book and throw it against the wall because of the ending. Perhaps it will help me feel better. (Forgive my humor.) Keep calm and carry on.