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Gemma Arterton – Catrin Cole
Sam Claflin – Tom Buckley
Helen McCrory – Sophie
Bill Nighy – Ambrose Hilliard
Claudia Jessie – Doris Cleavely
Jake Lacy – Carl Lundbeck
Rachael Stirling – Phyl Moore
Eddie Marsan – Sammy Smith
This movie is perfect for a BBC-type primetime drama. Maybe not as an actual movie though. I can literally imagine an elderly lady sat sipping tea in her council house lounge at 2.45pm on a weekday afternoon – watching this. I honestly don’t think it’s worthy of the big screen. But this doesn’t mean it’s total shite.
Their Finest is a sweet tale of a little lady’s quest to complete the film she has arrived in London to work on. But not without strife, mainly brought on by the effects of World War 2. Marsan joins the cast with Nighy and a few other familiar faces who all make up a great ensemble. The talent is high, the story is simple, the dramatics are – well – dramatic, and the set lends to an atmosphere of Blitzed London so authentic that you’d almost feel you were part of the rumbling, smoky atmosphere.
The producers outdo themselves in this area, Arterton’s surroundings painting a tragic picture of 1940’s England as she stumbles through ruins. She does good in this movie too; a petite figure in delicate clothing sporting a squeaky Welsh accent. The woman is quite the opposite to many other roles I’ve seen her play – especially that sunkissed slut in Runner Runner (2013), proving once again that although she pretty much looks the same in her films and has that same glint in those lazy eyes, Arterton’s versatility and enthusiasm reign supreme.
So the set is great. The cast aren’t bad. What else made the highlights?..
Unlike most other romantic comedy-dramas, Their Finest ends with a bang as one of the lead characters meets a grisly end. It’s not very pleasant but at the same time makes one of the most realistic endings I’ve seen in years. Not everything is peachy, not every character heads off into the sunset – sometimes the shit hits the fan. And this is another element of this movie which makes it worth a watch. A dash of realism is added to the story which makes the movie feel more naturalistic, possibly relatable. This ending scene actually seems darkly humorous at first because of how unexpected it is, but quickly becomes deadly serious once the situation settles and emotions kick in (that elderly lady in her lounge best have her handkerchief ready).
This scene actually reminded me of The Dressmaker (2015) in which Kate Winslet plays a woman who falls for a hunky chap, but then loses him in a tragically swift accident. An unhappy ending, but realistic approach.
On the positive, Their Finest nicely portrays the graft of making a movie in a satyrical light. Nighy does a good job of leading the cast forward with his witty (but not overly hilarious) interpretation of Ambrose. I’ve seen much funnier from him. Still, he nails his thespian character by adopting a very convincing attitude – flambouyant to the point where I thought he was going to ‘get jiggy’ with his on-screen male colleague, Sammy. Good stuff. Him and Arterton are the driving force of this movie.
Considering he has held quite substantial roles in previous features, Claflin sinks into the background in this one. His character isn’t the most effervescent of them all and the man’s screen time is limited, resulting in him being a bit of a wallflower throughout the movie. Bit of a flop for Claflin.
Jake Lacy as Carl makes a nice, spunky addition to the cast. There’s something quirky about him and this disposition mixed with his chiseled looks adds great dynamic to his scenes. These scenes mainly involve him running around in army outfit whilst filming, which lends nicely to the overall satyrical feel.
Their Finest isn’t a bad little movie. However – if you sit down to watch it with great expectations, bring them down a bit. It’s certainly not an award-winning piece of work. It does deliver the goods set-wise and is very convincing during the actual war scenes and aftermath. And the cast aren’t a bad bunch at all – quite entertaining. But other than these two elements the movie fails to provide the ‘wow factor’. As mentioned, it’s perfect for older viewers who enjoy a bit of primetime drama. Just not for viewers who enjoy something a bit more energetic.
Stick the kettle on, slice some cake. This is a movie is perfect if you’re cozying up on a quiet night in.