Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sam Clafin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Paul Ritter, Rachael Stirling, Richard E. Grant, Henry Goodman, Jake Lacy, Jeremy Irons, Eddie Marsan, Helen McCrory, Hubert Burton, Claudia Jessie, Stephanie Hyam. Michael Marcus, Gordon Brown, Patrick Gibson, Lily Knight, Francesca Knight, Clive Russell, Cathy Murphy, Emma Cunniffe.
It is not always about who has the best and the finest body of men to call upon, the biggest bombs or the most modern equipment that can win a war, it is sometimes, more often than not, about the one individual who can add something a little extra, the one who sees the picture in the theatre of war just a little differently and who can add the element of propaganda to the rallying call of the nation.
It is how the nation can get behind you that makes the difference, in modern times perhaps no greater moment defined Britain and her people than Dunkirk, that spirit gave Europe the time to have Russia take on the Nazis from the East and America the reason to see that some people in power cannot be reasoned with; it was arguably Their Finest.
Their Finest, a moment on the cinema screen which defined a generation and a country, which gave women greater and rightful prominence in the way that the country was to be shaped after the war and one in which certainly the film industry needed as the thought of jobs for the boys was surely to become a thing of the past in the bright future ahead.
The heroine may have been the face of glamour on the screen but there never anyone in the background, the writer behind the scenes and yet women had been creating some of the finest English literature and poetry for centuries, a sense of disproportion in the world never more keenly felt and one that is addressed with great charm in Their Finest.
The film hangs gently on the difference between how women were perceived within the film industry, no credit where it was due and in the case of Catrin Cole, an amalgam of all the great women whose ideas were looked and passed over at the time, reduced to being considered only good enough to add dialogue to adverts to getting Britain making their own vegetable patches in their back gardens.
The film, perhaps a little dry at times but nothing that does not carry the weight of the times with it, portrays the thought process within the script writing department in such a way that it is no wonder that films were seen as vital in defeating the evils of Nazi Germany. The every man and the ordinary woman on the street needed to see the reason why we had to stand up to the relentless bombing raids that destroyed places such as Coventry, London, Liverpool and Bootle and Their Finest gave them that reason.
With superb performances by Bill Nighy as Ambrose Hilliard, Rachael Stirling as Phyl Moore, Richard E. Grant as Roger Swain and Gemma Arterton as Welsh valley girl Catrin Cole, Their Finest is a attractive, charming film which not only captures the futility of trying to subdue the human spirit but also one that frames just how vital one person can change a nation’s mind, not with a threat but with a charismatic illusion.
A very good British film, the kind that cinema does best, not one made out of fantasy but one steeped in the very real world of parity between men and women.
Ian D. Hall