Posted Oct 14 2016

LFF 2016 - Their Finest

Dir: Lone Scherfig

Starring Gemma Artertin, Bill Nighy, Sam Claflin, Jack Huston, Richard E. Grant, Eddie Marsan, Helen McCrory, Henry Goodman, Jeremy irons

Lone Scherfig once again looks at gender roles in period Britain, this time focusing on women and the opportunities afforded them by WWII. Gemma Arterton (complete with note-perfect Welsh accent) is the young secretary who is seconded to the Ministry of Information – Film Division - not to type up notes but to write female-centric propaganda, all the men who supposedly could have done so having been conscripted. Soon, this becomes an opportunity to co-write a real screenplay, based on the true story (almost) of two shy, retiring sisters who answered the call and heroically sailed to Dunkirk to help liberate the troops. But this (and indeed, that) are movies, full of “authenticity and optimism” but also really just like real life, but with the boring bits left out.

Scherfig’s delightful film mines a bittersweet vein that moves from being very funny to powerfully poignant. It is far more than moviemakers’ japes-during wartime, but a sensitively told story than knows how to enjoy itself along the way. How could it not be with Bill Nighy cast as an aging thesp desperately clinging to his former glories? (Something he does, naturally, with his customary effortless genius.)

He is just one standout in a cast that really knows what it’s doing, none more so than Arterton herself, who is both luminous and thoroughly feisty in the central role. Whilst the emphasis is on a woman’s position during war-time – and its evolving nature, Scherfig cleverly uses the film industry and the making of a film – a world of compromise if ever there was one! – to show how such changes and advances are always, by the very nature of change, incremental rather than as dramatic as the events the war may bring around them.

Smart, moving, amusing and beautifully played by a stand out cast (full of familiar faces in relatively small roles) – very fine indeed.

Catch Their Finest at the LFF on 14 & 15 October

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