Saturday, April 22, 2017

Their Finest: Movie Review


They’re making a movie and it’s brilliant and funny.
The plot of Their Finest works on many levels. On one side it’s a simple comedy-drama-romance of a young woman finding her way in the world, on another side it’s a comedy about making a movie, but it’s also an historical drama taking a look at the effects of war on everybody left at home, and when war hits the home you know, and how war has changed the role of women in society. Above all, it’s a comedy; a very engaging, very funny comedy about ridiculous actors and how to write a screenplay. 2016

Directed by: Lone Scherfig

Screenplay by: Gaby Chiappe
Based on the novel by Lissa Evans

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin
and Bill Nighy

Gemma Arterton stars in THEIR FINEST.
The plot which encompasses all of the above is simply a former secretary is promoted to screenwriter when the government needs a hopeful and happy war movie which appeals to women. Some people believe, many others don’t agree, that a movie for and about women should be written by a woman. A great aspect of our lead character Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is that she’s not going to get involved in the debate, she’s just happy to have a job and do it well. She’s a quiet trail-blazer, one who isn’t purposely changing the way for women, but is in part, one aspect of that circumstance of war.

I have exactly two absolute favourite parts of this movie, and they nicely go hand in hand. As said, this movie is about making a movie, and more specifically how to write a screenplay. A major portion of the film is watching them write, watching them brainstorm and then write, and then re-write when actors and producers and governments have other ideas. It’s also brilliantly scripted as a lesson on how to write a screenplay when at the same time, the film we’re watching breaks most of the rules. The minutia in writing a great film is knowing which rules to break and when, and in this film, you have to watch for it, but they do it right.

Sam Claflin and Gemma Arterton star in THEIR FINEST.
Photos courtesy of Elevation Pictures.
Catrin’s screenwriting partner is Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and he’s the second half of the brilliance of this film. First he just pulls you in with the comedy. He has fantastic delivery of many excellent lines when the screenwriting adventure first begins. But with all great characters and films, he builds on that. Through Claflin’s unbelievably effective performance, Buckley is at once both snarky and charming, considerate and selfish, and a more damaged man than he would like you to believe. This is Sam Claflin as you have never seen him before, combining drama and comedy like a seasoned expert, drawing you into the character, but also the purpose of the film. Whether it’s insightful or just hilarious, he gets most of the great lines in the film – a few others are saved for Bill Nighy.

At one point the film explains that Americans need their movies to be big, with crashes and explosions and oomph. As a North American viewer, that’s mostly true. Right when they said that, I was thinking that that’s where they failed – but it’s actually a slow burn, by the end it does have a fairly significant impact. And it’s war, with bombs and explosions in the background if you need it. At times, I wish they followed their own advice for the ending, but on the other hand, I enjoyed every minute of this film, so they obviously did a lot right. It’s a must see for those who like the making of movies, and for those who enjoy a simple period-set comedy-drama story based on real life.
Best of 2017

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