2016 London Film Festival Review: Their Finest – “A love letter to filmmaking”
This delightful wartime comedy drama from director Lone Scherfig sees a new female writer brought on to write the ‘slop’ (female voices) for a propaganda film that is being made in order to boost morale during World War Two. It’s Catrin’s story but it’s also a much wider tale about storytelling – and the importance of finding something you love to do in the world.
Starring Gemma Arterton as Catrin, alongside Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Rachael Stirling and a whole host of other British acting talents, Their Finest brilliantly explores gender bias and feminism without ever really admitting to as much. This story sees Catrin realise how much she enjoys working and though men have an important part to play in both her personal and professional lives, this is not the point of the story itself. She is a female, seeking to be heard and respected in a male-dominated world. Yet she is also really enjoying herself as she starts to realise just how talented she actually is.
The dialogue is superb, with humour and one-liners used to perfection. Stirling has some of the best lines in the film, bringing both big laughs and cutting observations of the everyday sexism occurring around her character and Catrin’s. Among all this delicious humour and banter, there is also a real appreciation for the creative arts and all who fight to make something great. Different parties are constantly weighing in as the team try desperately to make the film in question and, though many filmmakers, producers etc. would possibly argue that it’s a challenge in today’s market, Their Finest is set in an era when making a film really did mean life or death. They had no idea if they’d be able to show up the next day and you can see so much of these characters going into the production of their very important film.
The cast are all incredible. Arterton does a great Welsh accent and brings a real honest, quiet charm to her character. Catrin is not aggressive in her fight for equality but she speaks her mind when she has to and lets her work speak for itself the rest of the time. Claflin, similarly, is very impressive as her fellow writer, Buckley. The sparring between the pair is great on the big screen and a real treat to watch. This is a much more complex role for the man many may recognise as Finnick Odair and he takes on the challenge with apparent ease. One of the real highlights of the cast, though, is the hilarious Bill Nighy who is spot on with his take on a surly older actor, reluctantly joining the fray and complaining about all the luxuries the war has taken from him.
Their Finest is a love letter to filmmaking and to being creative. It’s lovely and endearing but also has real depth, both in character and plot. A triumph!
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