This film will remind you to read “Five Came Back”, the powerful book about Hollywood directors in World War II.
Their Finest, taking place in London, is a romantic film focusing on love, loss and war in 1940. It tells the story of how England wanted a propaganda film based on the recent battle in Dunkirk that could be used to inspire a patriotic reaction in England as well as the United States.
The film centers on Katrin Cole, played in a moving fashion by Gemma Arterton, who is hired as a screenwriter to try to bring the Dunkirk story to life on the big screen. In the process, she is assigned to work under the supervision of a talented and sarcastic screenwriter played by Sam Claflin. Though it is clear that they are attracted to one another, they made sure that they stayed at arm’s length given that Ms. Cole was married.
As our writers try to fashion a story that the English government will accept, the viewer learns what is meant by the phrase frequently appearing on the big screen, “based on a true story.” In other words, while the outline is undoubtedly true, facts frequently have to be changed in the name of making a film that will inspire an audience.
Ms. Arterton proves again that she is an accomplished actress who tragically receives little attention. I can only encourage all of you to hunt down her role as the nasty female lead in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013).
And while most of you won’t immediately recognize Mr. Claflin, it is worth remembering his contribution to the three Hunger Game films (2013 through 2015), not to mention his fabulous performance as the paralyzed young man who is seeking permission to commit suicide in Me Before You (2016). He gives a meaningful performance in Their Finest as a young man who was in love with a co-worker yet dedicated to preserving their honor and dignity.
I should also note that this film takes place during the Nazi blitz of England throughout 1940. While a movie crew was trying to piece together a film that took a great deal of time and effort, they were constantly interrupted by bombs that put their lives and other civilians in jeopardy. That was a horrendous time to be alive and working in London, and this magnetic little film puts the audience in the middle of that catastrophic disaster.
Let me close by noting the enchanting performance by Bill Nighy, who plays an egotistical, aging movie star who wants to look good in any movie role that he accepts. In the process, Mr. Nighy finds inner strength as he reaches inside of himself to provide inspiration to colleagues who dance on the edge of having their entire film collapse.
This is a stirring film that forces you to remember the cost of war. Death suddenly separates lovers when they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.
Do you just give up, or use memories to inspire a meaningful life? See this moving film and find out.