Their Finest is a delightful and funny drama about one woman’s break into the male-centric world of screenwriting in Britain in the 1940s. Set against the backdrop of WWII, Catrin Cole (a lovely Gemma Arterton with a Welsh accent), goes against the female norm and starts working for a London scriptwriting company. She and fellow writer Tom Buckley (an annoyingly smarmy Sam Claflin) develop an argumentative, bantering friendship that leads to, well I’m sure you can guess where it leads to.
The wartime film created by the screenwriters was to be about twin girls who heroically rescued soldiers in their small boat during the Battle of Dunkirk. Their Finest revolves around the film’s making from start to finish. When scriptwriter Catrin initially interviews the twins she discovers that the newspaper reports about their ‘rescue of soldiers’ was in fact untrue. They had never reached Dunkirk because their boat had broken down, and they had only taken on soldiers when they were towed back to England by a bigger ship.
No matter. Catrin sets about creating a story that would appeal to female viewers. Her fellow writers get involved and throw in their ideas, casting men as the hero. The Ministry department responsible for the product add their political requirements. The actors, headed by Ambrose Hilliard (a hilarious, pompous Bill Nighy), bring their demands to bear. And then to top it all off the people responsible for promoting the film to an American audience insist that an American actor be added. (Never mind that there were no Americans in Dunkirk). Although good to look at the American, Carl Lundbeck (Jack Lacy), is completely useless as an actor, and the team is forced to do what it can to ensure he is more seen than heard.
Their Finest has a good dig against toothy, dim Americans, against the ridiculousness of war time propaganda, and against the malleability of ‘truth’ in movies. It portrays the making of the Dunkirk rescue film in parallel with the relationship between its creators Catrin and Tom. Interestingly, these two aspects of Their Finest‘s story show how human intervention can manipulate outcomes to suit taste.
Their Finest opens at cinemas in South Africa on 2 June 2017.