BBC4 is one of my favourite TV channels, and not just because of the Top of the Pops reruns. It is also a place to find classic TV from the past, good subtitled Scandi style dramas, and little known gems of films. Over Christmas I enjoyed rare repeats of ‘A Ghost Story For Christmas’, the Grace Dent ‘What we were watching’ episodes, and, of course repeats of #TOTP. I also watched a British film that I had never heard of, but enjoyed thoroughly, ‘Their Finest’.
Their Finest is set in London during the Blitz. A young Welsh woman, Catrin Cole, new to London with her artist husband, gets a job at the Ministry of Information writing film scripts. She becomes involved with a film about Dunkirk which tells the true story of two sisters who stole their father’s boat to help the evacuation. Catrin wants to tell the story from the women’s point of view, but has to work with another script writer, Tim Buckley, and the sparks begin to fly as the picture begins to take shape. But this is wartime, and the threat of death is never far away from any of the characters.
There is so much to admire about Their Finest, not least the fabulous British cast which includes Gemma Arterton as the elegant, articulate and spirited Catrin, and Sam Clafin as her foil Buckley. Bill Nighy is, well, Bill Nighy, which basically means he is fabulous as ageing actor Ambrose Hilliard, whilst we are reminded of the huge loss of Helen McCrory, who is wonderful as his agent Sophie. Jack Huston is suitably hot as the artist Ellis, whilst Richard E Grant, Eddie Marson, Rachel Stirling and another gone too soon talent Paul Ritter round out the tremendous supporting cast.
The period styling is impeccable, with Rachel Stirling in particular totally rocking a glamorous androgynous look at the Sapphic Phyll, all shirts and ties and red lippy. Helen McCrory’s Sophie is beautifully elegant in 1940’s style, whilst Catrin shows how sparse and yet impeccable the utility look could be.
Their Finest is a little gem of a movie, and yet one that has a sting in the tale. The truly moving ending had me smiling through my tears, which seems to be the best way to describe this film.