When I caught wind of Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton coming together for a war time comedy late last yet, my expectations were instantly set to an extraordinarily high level. Throw in Jeremy Irons and you can only feel the anticipation rise. Those three names alone were exactly why my appetite to catch “Their Finest” on the big screen last night was quite a large one.
Our heroes come together in the midst of World War 2, more specifically, during the blitz of London where the British Ministry for Propaganda are churning out sub par cinematic releases to raise the moral of the nation. Sadly, it’s not working and that’s where Catrin Cole (Aterton) steps into the picture. She’s a slightly neglected housewife from Wales who has moved to London to support her loving and loyal husband, Ellis, himself working long hours to clear the rubble from the nightly bombings that the Nazi’s reign down on old blighty.
Much to her husband’s chortle, Catrin is picked up by the British Ministry to help write scripts after head writer, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) reads one of her quirky comics in the local paper. In reality, he’s after a female to write the “schlop” that will appeal to wartime woman and Catrin appears to be his girl. Upon joining the Ministry though, Catrin finds life isn’t all plain sailing for woman in the film industry as she discovers a constant stream of double standards set in place to keep woman in their place. “Their Finest” is as much a tick for feminism as it is for war heroes.
What follows is a hilarious and cavorting tale of twists and turns following Catrin’s trajectory from a budding script writer to, how shall we say it?, the brains behind the brawn as the Ministry brings to life the tale of two sisters who attempt to rescue British troops stranded at Dunkirk in May 1940. This is also where Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) comes not just to the fore, but brings an otherwise respectable film to life. With a combination or dry wit and “otherness”, Nighy brings “Their Finest” to full bloom with every scene he participates in from this moment forward. Sure, the rest of the cast who appear do their part, and yes, they do deliverer considerable quality, but let’s face it, Ambrose, Catrin, Buckley steal the show as they all deliver a quality product that will leave you laughing, crying and seething all within minutes of each other.
Jeremy Irons delivers a stellar cameo as the Secretary of War whilst Helen McCrory (best known for her role as Polly in the exceptional BBC drama, “Peaky Blinders”) is sharp and edgy as Sophie Smith, the film agent for Ambrose.
Will “Their Finest” find it’s place in the echelons of cinematic classics? Probably not. Will it however, have you walking out after the screening feeling a warm and fuzzy glow all over? Absolutely! “Their Finest” is the kind of flick you simply cannot resist. It opens around the country soon and you will be much worse off for not catching it on the big screen.