Their Finest

Watched: 31 August

There are obviously things to like about this British crowd-pleaser, which tells the story of a screenwriter (Gemma Arterton) working on a propaganda drama film about Dunkirk (heh, excellent timing) during the Second World War. Arterton is on good form, smiling wryly at one point at a comment informing her character that she will be paid less than male counterparts who are doing the same job, an inequality that the actor has sadly had to campaign against in real life. She does quiet defiance and mild irritation very well as the film grapples with issues arising from sexism, and gradually her writer earns the respect of her male bosses (how noble of them, etc etc) as the story progresses. And then there’s Sam Claflin, whose role is more shades of grey than black and white, and Bill Nighy as a smirking, vaguely roguish luvvie, his age counting against him as American and British producers push for younger, dashing heroes. There’s a pleasant score, and a fair amount of amusing lines, too, though sadly the tragedies and sourer moments of the film fail to make as strong an impression as the lighter material. In all honesty, though, I’m just a bit tired of the nice, conventional, slightly-rousing British heritage staple – even good ones like this. That said, I’m glad that in recent years a number of high profile heritage films have been made in the UK in which the stories focus on women, and therefore it’s one genre that is successfully addressing the overall disparity in terms of leading roles for men and women in western cinema. (***)

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