In the beginning of World War II, a young copywriter is hired to write the dialogue of female characters in propaganda films in a more authentic way. Her work leads her down a path of emancipation.
Set in London during the Blitz, THEIR FINEST is a British romantic comedy that follows an advertising copywriter hired to write authentic dialogue for female characters in war-time propaganda films. As she and her colleagues write a film intended to raise the moral of the British viewing public, our heroine’s work gradually and predictably becomes a means of empowerment in a male-dominated industry. Directed by Lone Scherfig, THEIR FINEST mines similar themes to those of AN EDUCATION, namely a young woman’s developing assertiveness and gender relations at a specific moment in British history, though unlike her earlier work Scherfig’s latest has a distinctly commercial flavour to it.
Adapted from Lissa Evans’ 2009 novel THEIR FINEST HOUR AND A HALF, first-time screenwriter Gabbi Chiappe’s screenplay is understated, if not underwritten, leaving much of the work to the cast and direction. Gemma Arterton delivers a subtle and absorbing lead performance as the increasingly assertive Catrin Cole, whilst Sam Claflin as prickly screenwriter Tom Buckley ably makes an unlikable character likable. Unsurprisingly given his past roles as disgruntled yet amiable comic relief, Bill Nighy doesn’t disappoint as a past his prime leading man in the film Cole and Buckley pen. Nighy gets the best of both the early comic exchanges and the closing scenes of intergenerational poignancy. The film features an abundance of British character actors; precisely the kind that might assemble for a film to make the nation feel better about itself. However, the film largely turns on Arterton’s performance and, aside from a somewhat questionable Welsh accent, her performance is very good.
Set during a time when cinema was in its infancy, THEIR FINEST is also a celebration of the collective experiences of both making and watching films. In one standout scene, the filmmakers neatly use Cole’s screenwriting talents to skewer the conventions of romance on the big screen; conventions the film itself largely adheres to. Nevertheless, Scherfig’s film is squarely aimed at multiplex audiences and consequently such meta-cinematic tricks are sparingly used. Ultimately, THEIR FINEST is a flawed yet disarming acclamation of gender equality – onscreen and off – and the affective power of cinema in dark times.
Original title: Their Finest
Großbritannien 2016, 110 min
Genre: Comedy, War Film, Film about film-making
Director: Lone Scherfig
Author: Gaby Chiappe
DOP: Sebastian Blenkov
Montage: Lucia Zucchetti
Music: Rachel Portman
Distributor: Concorde Filmverleih
Cast: Bill Nighy, Helen McCrory, Gemma Arterton, Jack Huston, Sam Claflin
- OV Original version
- OmU Original with German subtitles
- OmeU Original with English subtitles
ALLE ANGABEN OHNE GEWÄHR.
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