MARIA DUARTE enjoys a film with a feminist focus on the role of women during WWII
Their Finest (12A)
Directed by Lone Scherfig
DANISH director Lone Scherfig turns the spotlight on the role of women during the Blitz and in cinema in this witty and beautifully produced WWII rom com which packs a satirical, feminist punch.
Based on Lissa Evans’s novel Their Finest Hour and a Half, which makes more sense as a title, it stars Gemma Arterton as Catrin Cole.
She’s a Welsh woman in 1940s London hired by the British Ministry of Information as a scriptwriter to bolster women’s dialogue — “the slop” as the men call it — in their war propaganda films to boost morale at home.
Her natural flair for the work is soon noticed by the cynical and acerbic lead scriptwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin, in fighting form).
The pair set out to make an epic feature film based on a Dunkirk rescue by two twin sisters.
They’re forced not to let the truth get in the way of a good story in order to fulfil the government’s remit and to keep the film’s star — the wonderfully vain and over-thehill matinee idol Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) — happy and content.
While Catrin is flourishing at work, her home life is turning into a nightmare with her depressed artist and unemployed husband (Jack Huston) continually denigrating her efforts and achievements, though he is happy to be living off her.
Scherfig skilfully and effortlessly marries social drama with the film-within-a-film scenario, showing the flaws and ruthlessness of the British film industry and the government propaganda machine while highlighting women’s changing role during wartime Britain.
Arterton is superb as the beleaguered Catrin who has to proverbially hold Hilliard’s hand throughout the shoot.
But she’s in danger of being outshone by the wonderful Nighy, in his element here, and the charismatic Claflin who is clearly reining in his magnificent, razor-sharp performance in an attempt not to steal the film.
Scherfig does not hold back in featuring the death and destruction dealt by the constant bombing raids on London, providing poignant moments in what is a hilarious, quirky and entertaining film.