We decided to go to Their Finest as much to see Bill Nighy as because we knew anything about the film (or strictly speaking, Clang wanted to see Bill Nighy and I wanted to see Gemma Arterton).
What we found was a deeply moving, beautiful, funny film based on Lissa Evans’ book Their Finest Hour and a Half. In spite of Sam Claflin’s character’s rant against the story structure, the film is a classic Hero’s Journey story – and all the better for it. It brings out everything from the horrors of the Blitz to the old school bureaucracy of British government via the chaos of trying to make a film in the middle of a war with no resources.
The film’s true glory is in its portrayal of changing relationships – some voluntary, some forced on the characters by the war itself. There is a lot of love and a lot of pain but without sentimentality, as though the war wouldn’t allow for such a luxury. Having said that, one of the most moving scenes (in which Nighy demonstrates his prowess as a singer as well as an actor) takes place in a little pub in Devon one evening after filming has finished for the day.
The role of Catrin Cole suits Aterton well. She shows a softer side whilst letting some of the grit one sees in Byzantium, Alice Creed and Hansel & Gretel seep through when needed. Bill Nighy, of course, just plays Bill Nighy.
Its good to see the BBC producing quality footage as well. When they are good, they are good.
Well worth seeing.