Not too often you come across a movie that has everything a movie should have. A movie that draws you into its world, makes you accept everything you see and makes you laugh, cry and think.
“Their Finest” is such a movie.
London, 1940. The blitz has become part of life. The lack of food is part of life. Not having young men around has become part of life. The destruction doesn’t stop the city from functioning in some ways. How do people live under those conditions?
Here’s a story of a couple in their late 20’s. He’s an artist, a painter, wounded in the Spanish war, therefore not drafted to the army. Times are scarce, people don’t go the exhibitions and don’t buy art, especially one that depicts the horrors around. He’s depressed artistically and personally so she goes to look for a job. After all, women are called to the job market, temporarily, to replace the missing men.
She is sent to an office in the Ministry of Information to what she believes is a secretarial job but finds herself becoming a scriptwriter for short ‘moral boosting’ films.
When one of her ideas ‘pushes’ all the right buttons in that arena, it is decided to turn it into a feature film.
She is thrust into the world of cinema with its producer, actors, and writers on a location shoot in Devon. The re-writes the 3 scriptwriting team members have to do are constant. First, the Ministry want a few changes to address issues they deem important, then the Minister himself gets involved in the casting because suddenly the USA is interested and wants an American actor in the cast. He also knows which American Actor it will be. A war hero with a strong face and very little acting experience. She has to deal with a fading actor who tries to maintain the aura of fame and doesn’t like his lines. And of course, a constant change of the ending.
During all that, we are part of the character’s lives and are invested in them, even though we know little about them. I found myself laughing out loud (must admit I love everything Bill Nighy does), and feeling sad a moment later. Enjoyed the stabs to Hollywood and the industry, and left the theater thinking about life and how precious it is.
Only later I found out the movie was directed by a woman. Lone Scherfig, director of “An Education” among other works.
A good director is a good director. Gender should not be an issue.