Their Finest is a refreshing look at World War II, focusing on the involvement of a government film agency and its efforts to make a propaganda movie about the battle of Dunkirk, one of the most important battles of the war, and the subject of Christopher Nolan’s latest project.
I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of period pieces, I often find myself becoming bored or disenchanted with the production. And Their Finest is far from a period piece, it is still set in relatively modern times, but I just was very bored throughout the beginning. Gemma Arterton is a true gem, trying to balance her new role in this administration with her support of her starving artist husband, and as a woman who is never fully appreciated in her efforts just because of her sex. Much of the humor from the film stems from Gemma and her colleagues trying to dodge the watchful eye of one of the ministry’s spies, almost counterintuitive since they’re on the main side. Bill Nighy is also a delight, playing a veteran actor whose reluctant to take on the Dunkirk film as his next project.
Aside from comedy, one thing that shines through in the film is the loss that Britain suffered during the war, and the comradery that bound them together. One memorable scene is when Nighy is summoned to identify whether it was a friend of his who died in battle. He originally believes it was someone else, but is forced to face the harsh truth that his friend did die, right before an air raid siren sounds and he must retreat with others to a bunker for safety. It’s a harrowing moment in a wonderful film, and reminds of the real sacrifices people made during the war. Some paid with their pride, others with their lives, but everyone gave up something, and that’s what made them heroes.