With a strong British cast and spirit, Lone Scherfig’s film doesn’t fail to charm audiences from beginning to end.
Catrin Cole is a Welsh secretary living in 1940’s London until one day she is appointed as a script writer to help write the ‘slop’ (gushy words from a woman’s perspective) for propaganda films and is soon on set with the cast and crew of a new major film production. Throw in a love triangle and struggles to be accepted in the business because she is a woman and you have a fully rounded and engaging film.
Lone Scherfig delivers a fascinating film that perfectly captures the British spirit in the era, never flinching from graphic details of the horrors of living through the war in London. This includes the scene of the aftermath of a bomb going off that captures the detail of destruction and horror perfectly.
But the director has also managed to bring together an excellent cast to make the whole film brim with life, joy and humour. The particular stand-out performance comes from Bill Nighy as the in denial Ambrose Hilliard who doesn’t wish to accept an older role fitting for his age rather than a bigger part. Nighy as always delivers his lines with great warmth and always is spot on with the humour – he is particularly good in the next to last scene in which he tries to convince Catrin to return to script writing.
Meanwhile Gemma Arterton as Catrin is sparkling throughout – charming, graceful but with just enough of strength that suggests Catrin is someone not to be messed around with. Her accent is also spot on – never over the top and is gently lilting and consistent throughout.
It is a shame that other characters and cast aren’t given as much as a chance to shine – suggesting that the idea is to see how many well known faces can be fitted into a number of cameo roles – such as Jeremy Irons and Richard E Grant for example. But it is a particular shame that there aren’t as many moments or comic opportunities for Eddie Marsan as Sammy – who is paired nicely with Bill Nighy’s Hilliard or even Helen McCrory as Sophie determined not to put up with any nonsense from Hilliard. Both have great presence when on screen and it is a shame that Scherfig doesn’t make more of it.
While the film is essentially a comedy, this is nicely contrasted with moments of poignancy and bittersweetness from Catrin’s final moments with Tom Buckley (a fellow script writer) or Ambrose Hilliard being forced to identify a friend who was killed in a bombing. All those involved with the film are playing at a fantasy life – but real life is never too far away.
Poignant and sparkling, Their Finest is a lovely little British film that immediately endears itself to the audience through its warmth and humour.
Their Finest will be available to buy and download from Amazon from the 21st August.