At the beginning of World War II, it was critical for the leaders of England to gain the support of the people. The British government turned to propaganda films to maintain the heart of the nation throughout the daily bombing raids from the German forces. Most of these films were less than entertaining or inspiring, but one film was meant to change the direction and purpose of propaganda films, an epic feature of a daunting story of rescue at Dunkirk. As the head screenwriter, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) has the challenge of connecting with the women of Britain. The ministry tires to find the right person to write ‘the slop,’ a derogatory term for female dialogue in the script. They decide to hire Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) to help out the writing team, but she surprises them with her natural gift for scripting that extended beyond ‘the slop.’ The writing trio have to work through the interference from the government, egotistical actors and the consistent bombing from the Nazi forces. They work against the clock hoping to write an long-lasting wartime epic opposed to an epic failure.
With all of the films about the various campaigns during World War II throughout cinematic history, it is hard to see how Their Finest can rise above these film of the past, but it does. At the heart of the film is the notion that the story is what drives all productions. Good actors, decent special effects and strong direction are critical, but the production truly relies on the quality of writing. Relying on the ‘less is more’ methodology, the on-screen characters seem to personify the behind scenes attitude of only putting forward their best work. No less, no more. The film also conveys that the best creative minds have to contain an uncanny ability to adapt to necessary changes while protecting their craft. What makes this all come together is not only the exemplary writing, but the acting talent that handles these words with care and poise.
This master class is lead by Bill Nighy who takes every moment on screen and seems to relish every word that he is given. His performance seems to be a caricature of his life as a wonderfully seasoned actor, which makes this role even more satisfying to experience. He complements Gemma Arterton’s portrayal of the Welsh immigrant who is a diamond in the rough and truly the heart of the film. She manages to deliver a strong and smart female character that does not sacrifice her femininity. This proves to be one of the best performances of her career which will hopefully lead to more opportunities in the future. Her work is complemented by another superb supporting achievement in Sam Claflin. He is almost unrecognisable and proves that he is more than a pretty face with his take on the brash and passionate head writer. With her three lead charters and the talent-rich supporting cast, director Lone Scherfig (One Day) has managed to pull together an amazing cast and utilises their talents to deliver one of the best films of the season.
A wonderful story that is tragic, uplifting and worth digging through the rubble of sequels and reboots to find this visual treasure.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Great stories all have their roots in God’s story. This sounds like a big claim, but if you were to evaluate all stories you would see that the common themes of each have its origins in God’s story. Love, redemption, salvation, good v. evil, the list goes on and on. They may be told in a different manner or style, but from the greatest of love stories to the most ferocious war films to the funniest comedies, the source material can be traced back to God and his unequalled storytelling ability.
That is why no one has ever been able to top this opening…
In the beginning, God (Genesis 1:1) or In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)
Are these words merely the opening to great literature or is there something more to God’s story?
This might be a great opportunity to have a fresh look at the greatest story ever told.
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