THEIR FINEST (6.5 out of 10) Directed by Lone Scherfig; Written by Gaby Chiappe, based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans; Starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy; Rated R for some language and a scene of sexuality; Running time 117 minutes; In limited release April 7, 2016, expanding April 14.
In the darkest months of the Blitz on London, the British War Office and Ministry of Information look to produce a film that will raise the spirits of a troubled nation. Hired to write "the slop" (womens' dialogue), Welsh copywriter Catherin Cole (Arterton) discovers the story of twin sisters who attempted to aid in the rescue at Dunkirk. When she pitches this idea, everyone seizes on it, and of course embellish it beyond recognition in the service of British propaganda.
Their Finest, based on the novel Their Finest Hour and and a Half, then becomes a loving homage to the magic of movie-making, and why it becomes even more important in times of darkness. But one of the nicest parts of this is its tale of female empowerment, as Catherin faces every microaggression and obstacle working in a man's world.
Chief among them is crusty aged thespian Ambrose Hilliard (Nighy-- who is really the main reason to watch this movie). While they start off with an incredibly rocky relationship, by the end they've formed this beautiful bond as he realizes her talent and what she is bringing to the script.
Speaking of relationships, the main problem with this film is its somewhat predictable tragic romance trajectory. Its production budget also shows through in a few places, perhaps making this more suitable to watch on the small screen than projected on a large one. It also drags in several places, making this two hour movie feel at least forty minutes longer.
But despite all of that, there are twenty to thirty minutes of this film that are beautiful and nearly perfect. If you are one who enjoys a good tearjerking period piece drama, this is right up your alley. All others, this may not be the finest way for you to spend two hours in the theater.
6.5 out of 10