Monday, May 1, 2017

[Review] Their Finest

Somewhere between Hail, Caesar! and Hidden Figures, Lone Scherfig's Their Finest is an equally delightful and tragic picture of a movie-within-a-movie amidst wartime. It's led by a fantastic performance from Gemma Arterton as the film's driven, empowering central character.

That character is Catrin, a talented writer in 1940s London who lands a gig at the Ministry of Information (the Film Division) as a scriptwriter. There, she plays a vital role in the turbulent, bomb-blasts-in-the-background production for a film about the Dunkirk evacuation. Coincidentally, this comes right before Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, a highly-anticipated film on same subject.

Anyway, what unfolds is a splendidly layered story about art, romance, war, truth, authenticity, writing, acting, and filmmaking. It's classically shot and rendered with excellent old-fashioned period detail. And for a movie that focuses on themes about storytelling and performance, it fittingly showcases a great screenplay itself, along with some wonderful acting. The script is full of snappy, clever, subtextual dialogue, and the narrative gracefully blends humor and solemnity.

Gemma Arterton gives a tremendously well-rounded performance of a well-drawn character, carrying a creative savvy, confidence, vulnerability, and a well-wrought emotional core all at once. The supporting cast is impressive too. Sam Clafin solidly serves as Catrin's arrogant, bickering co-writer who eventually exhibits a likable turn as the two form a bond (all that time spent in the writers' room together, I guess). Then there's the always great Bill Nighy who plays an eccentric aging actor, often stealing the show as he provides a lot of the film's comedic moments. It is he that also delivers the line, "We'll have them weeping in the aisles!" You might feel the same way about Their Finest.

* 8.5/10 *

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