The world was a much different place in the 1940s, and definitely a different world depending on which country you lived. As Americans, we’ve studied WWII in multiple stages throughout our education, but there has always been somewhat of a disconnect until our entry into the fight in 1941 after Pearl Harbor.
For most of Europe, however, the heartache and fear was a constant, and while we’ve seen war films, not many show just how affected daily life was. Their Finest, the new film by Lone Scherfig addresses not only life of the common people, but also how industry tried to survived. While Their Finest does focus on film production, the film is much more than that.
The story centers around Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) who is trying to find a living in any way she can to help her household, who she share with her artist husband Ellis (Jack Huston). Through an unexpected posting, she found her way onto a writing team of a London based film production company. Together with her writing partner, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), they create a filmatic version of a Dunkirk rescue by two twin sisters.
It seems to be a comical premise, but this British-based production has an amazing cast. The first four top billed actors have such a range of characters under their belt that you know they are able to handle anything that’s thrown at them. This film takes the audience on a roller coast ride of emotions, all welcomed and all loved.
The majority of the cast is familiar to you in some way, either from seeing their names before or from loving past roles. Most of the time, this might be a problem, because you aren’t able to separate the actor from the iconic role. That is certainly not the case, as each one of these actors jumps full force into their characters, giving them all the love and respect any person deserves.
At times the story can be hard to comprehend. We don’t know what it’s like to have the daily fear of bombings from foreign enemies or worried about finding enough money to put food on the table, but these wonderful actors have been able to bring to life robust characters that help you get through it (that’s not saying all the characters are lovely — some of them most certainly are not). Every aspect of a person’s character is explored and the normalcy of that off-sets the heartache of the world at that time.
1940s Europe was devastated. The political climate created such anguish that generations later the pain is still felt. For a movie about a film production, with all its light and love around art, this film does not take away from the struggles of the world. Delicate attention was paid to include the horror along with the empowered movements Catrin is making in her career. It shows a duality that many people have forgotten about.
We can study who started the war and remember the heroes who fought at the battles, but we must not forget the average people who lived through it. This movie is just as much about the people behind the cameras trying to bring happiness as it is about the ones who need the happiness the most.
With so many elements present within the main story, the audience experiences a roller coster of emotions — from shock and heartache to joy and inspiration within a small time frame. However, the audience is never put off by the shift. Their Finest mimics the best elements of life with an attention to the beauty around us.
The film may be listed as Comedy-Drama-Romance genre film, but it’s so much more. To limit the genres to just those classifications does not do the film justice. As several characters in the film break through their own pigeon-holing, the film deserves the same collapse of limiting borders. Go into this film with open eyes and an open heart — you won’t be disappointed.
Their Finest is the latest example in impressive British filmmaking, a film that not only captures the beauty of life, but brings forth a story that connects to the audience in different ways ten times over. The brilliant cast bringing to life complicated yet earnest characters, and Their Finest is bound to make its way into every audience members heart.
Their Finest opens in Austin on Friday April 14.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Allied Integrated Marketing