A beautifully written movie about a woman and a group of filmmakers making a beautifully written film in the height of the blitz could have been disastrously cheesy or pushed the feminist agenda. As it happens, ‘Their Finest’ is a very good story that tells the story of hope in the midst of the bombings in London from a fresh perspective. An Oscar-worthy performance from Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) elevates this film and alongside Ambrose (Bill Nighy) they really make the film shine.
The story follows Catrin in the heart of the bombings on London in the 1940s as she lands a job as a female writer for the British Ministry. Believing their failing films need a “female touch” to boost morale, Catrin is brought in to do just that. The film does a really good job of showing the process of film-making in the 1940s, focusing on everything from the script to acting all the way to lighting. However, since the film focuses more on the characters than the action, when the bombs do drop ‘Their Finest’ brushes over a lot of it and it never quite has the same level of tension other war films have.
My only gripe with this film is the lack of tough obstacles for Catrin and her team. This might sound odd but its a trope that’s been picked up a lot recently in film and with such a character-driven focus its more prevalent here than it otherwise would be. It’s often referred to as the “God protagonist”. There are challenges for her and her team to overcome but with the exception of one key scene toward the latter end of the film, Catrin brushes over a lot of the challenges with confidence and ease. I’m of course not suggesting this is a bad thing, it shows female empowerment in a way that isn’t in your face or overbearing, but a little bit more at stake could have increased the tension somewhat in the more dramatic scenes.
I mentioned earlier about Gemma Arterton’s acting and she really is outstanding here from start to finish. She delivers her lines really well and is the stand out for me. Second to her comes Ambrose, the lead actor in Catrin’s movie who delivers a charismatic, charming performance that oozes confidence and commands the screen with every line. The rest of the supporting cast are also good but for me, those two in particular stood out.
Overall, Their Finest is a good film. The lack of difficult obstacles for the characters to overcome isn’t a deal-breaker, in fact it’ll probably be barely noticeable to a lot of people, but it was enough for me to break a little bit of immersion with how easily these were dealt with. Having said that, Their Finest is a great film with a smartly written script and endearing characters and with these under its belt, it confidently portrays a side of the war we don’t always see on film.