If you're looking for a charming way to spend a few hours; look no further than
A British war drama as stirring and poignant as it is lively and humorous, Their Finest is filled with fabulous performances to make you laugh and cry and is bound to be one of the surprise hits of 2017.
Some of the appeal for movie fans is that it's set in the film industry - a "film within a film" of sorts. In 1940 London, Mrs Catrin Cole (Arterton) applies for a job as a secretary at the Ministry of Information, only to be told by head of the Film Division Roger Swain (Richard E. Grant) that they think she'd be a good scriptwriter. Well, only of the female dialogue, also known as "the slop".
Catrin's husband Ellis (Jack Huston), a slightly older war artist, isn't impressed with his wife's new occupation, but Catrin shows a natural flair and the "female touch" appeals to the Ministry. Along with Buckley (Claflin), a dry and cynical screenwriter, she's charged with writing an epic propaganda drama based on the Dunkirk rescue; a film to rally the people at home and hopefully also entice the Americans into the war.
It's Catrin who discovers the true story of two sisters who stole their drunken father's fishing boat and headed from Southend to Dunkirk to rescue wounded British soldiers. The story turns out to be too good to be true, but it's the perfect starting point for Catrin and Buckley to create a dramatised account of what may have happened.
Based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans, screenwriter Gaby Chiappe has done a good job of bringing a series of subplots together into a cohesive and satisfying narrative.
As well as Catrin and Buckley, there's a Hungarian filmmaker (Henry Goodman) on a quest to prove the power of film, a wholesome American Air Force hero (Jake Lacy) without acting ability and cast in the film, and Polish siblings and actor's agents (Eddie Marsan & Helen McCrory) trying to keep their clients busy working during unusual times.
But it's Bill Nighy who waltzes in and steals the show as aging thespian Ambrose. Barely concealing his disgust for the lowly supporting roles he must consider during wartime, Nighy is pitch-perfect, an utter delight, and you will wish his character back on to the screen whenever he's not there.
It takes a while for the narrative to settle and you can see the romantic storylines coming a mile away, but Danish director Lone Scherfig (An Education) has created a handsome film that captures the time and place, and is unashamedly nostalgic. Every style cliche from the era has been evoked - in both Scherfig and Catrin's films - but it's a blessing rather than a curse. Their Finest is impossible to resist.
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy
Director: Lone Scherfig
Running Time: 117 mins
Rating: M (Sex scenes and offensive language)
Verdict: Terribly nostalgic and impossible to resist.