Girls Like Us: The case for women in film in 'Their Finest' | Review

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By Claire.


Title: Their Finest
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: Gaby Chiappe, based on the novel ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’ by Lissa Evans
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy, Sam Claflin, Jack Huston, Paul Ritter, Jake Lacy

“Authenticity, optimism, and a dog” is everything you need to make a successful film. However, as Lone Scherfig’s latest period drama argues, the key ingredient is something which has been there all along: heroic and brave women.

Led by a steadfast Gemma Arterton, Their Finest tells the story of a team of filmmakers in 1940 London, determined to make a film guaranteed to lift war-time spirits. Their film is of Dunkirk: twin sisters steal their drunkard father’s boat to aid the evacuation. Arterton is Catrin Cole, a copywriter hired to write the women’s dialogue alongside the impenetrable and cocky Buckley (Sam Claflin) and his writing partner, Parfitt (Paul Ritter), for the film division of the Ministry of Information. What follows is a surprising, strong-willed and heart-warming film.

 Buckley (Sam Claflin) and Catrin (Gemma Arterton) on set of their film, 'The Nancy Starling'.(Source)

Adapted by Lissa Evan’s novel ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’, Gaby Chiappe’s script is full of biting wit and is masterfully executed by the cast. The repartee and comedic timing of the whole cast keeps the film alive. In a memorable scene, scriptwriters Buckley and Parfitt knock out the details of their film’s plot with flawless pacing, and is sure to make any film-lover giggle in their seat. Bill Nighy as the ageing actor coming to terms with his new role in film and life, Ambrose Hilliard, is delightfully melodramatic and equally touching. A stand out is Rachel Stirling as Ministry worker Phyl More. Demonised by Buckley in an “anti-authority” artistic kind of way, her ability to be strong and authorative in her work, yet compassionate and kind when she needs to be, is seamless. Nary do we get to experience such a well-rounded, not only female but lesbian, character on screen.

Do not be fooled, with war-time London comes tragedy, and no holds are barred here. With no illusion to the harsh reality of the Blitz, multiple air-raids shake the windows and blast out of the sky.

Their Finest takes you right into the middle of Blitz torn London. (Source)

Above all else, Their Finest sets forward a contemporary and enduring argument for the outstanding power of women in film. With Arterton’s Catrin as scriptwriter, she is the one with the talent to placate Nighy’s Hilliard into appreciating his “drunk uncle” role, she is the one to save the day with her ideas, and the one to perfect the film’s ending. In the cinema, she is surrounded by teary-eyed audiences—men and women alike—who are more than happy to see the film multiple times, and in her room, a postcard reads that the characters in her film has inspired real women to become engineers themselves.

What Scherfig and Chiappe do with Their Finest isn’t just another movie about the Blitz, nor is it just another dreamy English film for Scherfig. This film demonstrates exactly what we’ve been trying to tell you all this time—women are bloody good filmmakers, and there is nothing more powerful than positive representation and unrestricted female characters. Much like Catrin and Buckley’s film ‘The Nancy Starling’, Their Finest is a call to arms—girls like us, we can do anything.  

Women in film are powerful: Arterton and Bill Nighy in Their Finest. (Source)

Their Finest is now in cinemas.
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