Continuing her fascination with British manners, Danish director Lone Scherfig (An Education, The Riot Club) delivers another evocative study of a transitional period in our history. Their Finest once again follows a young woman finding her way through the changing order of the nation, this time enjoying the new freedoms afforded to women during the Second World War, as well as battling new opposition.
Gemma Arterton stars as Catrin, a talented young copy-writer enticed to London from Wales by her self-absorbed artist husband (Jack Huston). She gets a job as a script editor with the Ministry of Information, where she’s hired to write convincing women’s dialogue (or “slop” as it was then known) for morale-boosting propaganda films. Quickly noticed for her natural ability, she’s drafted by dashing movie producer Buckley (Sam Claflin) to work alongside a colourful crew to produce the cinematic stories the nation needs during the dark times of the Blitz.
Scherfig plays to the strengths of her sterling British cast, with Arterton bringing a subtlety to Catrin’s self-discovery, Bill Nighy brilliant as an ageing movie star struggling to come to terms with the fact his days as a romantic-lead are long gone, and Jeremy Irons offering the perfect cameo.
Based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans, debut screenwriter Gaby Chiappe’s adaptation blends shrewd wit with a lot of heart, displaying a keen sense of the mood of the time, resulting in a charming, nostalgic and spirited wartime drama.