A feature film about two British screenwriters creating a propaganda film during World War II may not sound all that interesting, but THEIR FINEST is a genuine crowd pleaser. The movie focuses on a smart young woman after she gets hired to help write a propaganda film that's supposed to "inspire optimism but feel authentic."
At the time, September 1940, German bombers were attacking London day and night and would keep up the destruction for almost three months, killing 32,000 people and obliterating two million homes.
It was a time when Londoners never knew if they or their friends and families would be alive the next day.
And young women got choice job offers, because young men were off fighting.
Grant: Obviously, we can't pay you as much as the chaps, so shall we say, uh, two pounds a week.
Mrs. Cole: Thank you.
Buckley: Twin sisters took their father's boat to join the rescue, came back with a deck full of soldiers. It's everything the ministry is after.
Mrs. Cole: Authenticity and optimism.
Buckley: Contradiction in terms if you ask me. But this could be a good story.
Gemma Arterton is young Englishwoman Catrin Cole who goes to work for screenwriter Tom Buckley played by Sam Claflin.
Buckley: We'll need someone to write the slop.
Mrs. Cole: Slop?
Buckley: Girl talk. Women's dialogue. Woof. Woof.
Even inexperienced movie goers can see that these two are destined for romance especially since they're soon arguing like an old married couple when he initially rejects her plot suggestions.
Her: Anything else?
Him: Since you're so keen to flex your femininity, you can tidy up.
(She growls with disgust.)
And that's part of what makes this movie work. It's a blend of the familiar and the surprising. The movie gives us most of what we want and expect but not all of it, and the ever present danger of imminent death tempers the comedy with real tragedy.
Still, it's the comedy that makes the movie enjoyable. Bill Nighy plays an egotistical aging actor who manages to be charming even when he's trying to reject the part they want him to play.
Actor (reading about his character): Uncle Frank. A shipwreck of a man. Sixties. Looks older.
Agent: We all have a part to play in defeating Hitler.
Actor: Not this part. It's a corpse role. He's dead before the end of act 3.
Clever, charming, even poignant at times, THEIR FINEST is fine indeed.