Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Film: 'Their Finest'

Having moaned in my last post about how weary I'd become of watching WW2 films, here comes another one. I'd been under the impression from what I'd read, as well as from the trailer, that this would be a lighter take on the subject of the war, and it is, in fact, a refreshingly different one. However, despite a number of gently comic moments, I wasn't expecting the central romance to be quite so dominant in the storyline, and that did tend to dull my appreciations. If I'd been in a more generously receptive mood I might have valued the film more.

It's the early 1940s following the Dunkirk evacuation and the London blitz is ongoing, when the order goes out from Churchill's war cabinet to create a propaganda film showing British stiff upper lip, doughty determination and resistance against the Nazi onslaught. as well as depicting active participation by ally USA in the struggle to make that involvement more palatable to an American audience.
Gemma Arterton plays a scriptwriter who is drafted in to assist with the film, working with others including Sam Claflin (a name I didn't recognise but discovered that he'd been in 'The Hunger Games' films). Their initial working relationship is a testy one, though you can guess the direction in which it's going to go. The mindset of the company is that the assistance of women is only needed because most of the men are away fighting. But once the war is over........

Bill Nighy plays one of the actors in the film-within-the-film, a droll presence and, for me, always a welcome one despite his ever seeming to play the same character no matter in which film he appears. This is a more substantial part than we normally see him playing, though still on the 'bitty' side. He delivers lines desiccated in their dryness as only he can.
Also in the cast, in a much smaller role, is the fine Eddie Marsan, as well as Richard E.Grant as the surly, overseeing figure ensuring that the final product comes up to government requirements. In addition, in an uncredited, one scene, cameo role is Jeremy Irons, puling out all the stops.

The film deals with the tribulations of the film crew as they try to get their film accomplished while bombs are raining on London, the effects of which are, of course, devastating to both property and to lives. Meanwhile the romance between Arterton and Claflin plays out, which I must say I found a distracting nuisance, and much less entertaining than the trials of their film-making.

The film is mainly shot in near-black and white, with scenes in sepia tint, as has become conventional now for war films. But we eventually do see full technicolour near the finish, in brief excerpts from the completed propaganda film.  

Danish director Lone Sherfig manages okay with her material. She did give us the very commendable 'An Education' in 2009, a film to which I awarded a rare '8'.

I'm certain that most others will have a better opinion of 'Their Finest ' than I can muster. Maybe my mood wasn't at the right setting from the start. As it turned out I did find it all a bit of a drag...........................5.5.

13 comments:

  1. Sorry, but I inadvertently deleted my original post so I've had to re-create it.

    John Gray of 'Going Gently' had added the comment:-
    "I suspect this is going to be a gentle teatime film. Thanks for the heads up."
    To which I replied:-
    "Hardly an enthusiastic heads up, J.G. More nearly balancing on the rim!"

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    1. We are going on saturday!

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    2. Good luck with it, J.G. I've a feeling that you'll enjoy it rather more than I did. I hope that's the way it turns out.

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    3. I did enjoy it but it could gave been better dramatically

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    4. I think people who enjoy it more can be more accepting of the central romance, J.G., while others like me found that aspect it an irritating distraction which lessened the entertainment value of the whole.

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  2. I agree; Bill N. does seem to always play the same part but I so enjoy him.

    This is coming soon near me; will definitely see it.

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    1. Bill N is one of those screen figures whose presence magnetises your attention no matter who else is with him, Elle. You'll like this film for that reason alone.

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  3. I will probably see this, because of Bill N. Love that man.And Eddie Marsan is one of those actors like Timothy Spall, always worth watching.

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    1. Did you happen to hear Bill N. as the tutor in the Radio 4 latest version of 'Educating Rita', Judith? - a couple of years back. He was very good, and more convincing in the part than Michael Caine was. (I actually saw it on stage first, before the film version. I think it was Bill Travers in that role.)
      In this film Eddie Marsan is as good as always. Although he does have two or three scenes I wish it had been more.

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  4. Another good review and heads up Ray. You are a treasure. I try to always check your reviews before placing a film in my Netflix queue.
    Ron

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    1. It gets my very qualified approval, Ron. I repeat that my not going great guns for it will almost certainly be a minority view. I think you might like it more than I did - and I do wish I had.

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  5. I still haven't seen films you reviewed two years ago, so no problem if I don't have to add this to the list.

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    1. I'm surprised that you keep a 'list' at all, Mitch, but it gives me satisfaction to know that you do. I feel an obligation to let people know which I consider to be worth going out of ones way to catch, even if it is, ultimately, no more than an individual opinion, having no more validity than just being that.

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