1. Storytelling with all the fixings.
2. Skillful movie making I sometimes think might be lost ……
Commentary: I stumbled onto this film and was very impressed. This is a drama with comedic interludes, historical without the historic figures, storytelling rather than theatrics, a determined young woman, a dramatic kiss, love, loss, and, yes, even little canines. All are directed to produce what a movie should: entertainment.
The setting is 1940, during the bombardments of England that were occurring well before America joined the war. Memories of World War I linger as the difficulties of World War II are upon the populace, each with their own wounds, attitudes, and ways of dealing with wartime.
A staff is required to create a tale for the public around the war effort. The vehicle they are given to drive home the message is that of the big screen. Thus we have an engaging movie with a storyline about making a movie with an engaging storyline. And the latter tale is that of Dunkirk, which in this telling did not write itself.
But one has never seen Dunkirk cast from this angle, a welcome change, particularly versus the recent pitiful effort I assess at this link: Dunkirk 2017. Churchill makes no appearance, meriting but one mention. War scenes are marginalized, generally fictionalized, and understood through the character’s eyes.
Humor is injected at appropriate periodic places. There are excellent characters (actors) characterizing the characters (subjects) of the in-production movie. People (in roles) both make light of, and come to endear, the people (portrayed). This element is most splendid with Bill Nighy in the role of actor, going over-the-top to act like an actor.
Here are two quotes to relish if you have the pleasure of viewing “Their Finest:”
- Bill Nighy as actor Ambrose Hilliard, describing with a snarl his own demeanor at a restaurant meeting with his agent: “I am perfectly calm. What you are seeing is controlled anger tempered with icy detachment. It’s one of the many subtle emotions of which a good actor is capable.”
- Sam Claflin, as movie writer Tom Buckley, elucidating on the art form and the comforts found in it that many feel are otherwise lacking for them: “Why do you think people like films? It’s because stories are structure. And they’re shape, purpose, meaning. And when things turn bad it’s still a part of a plan; there’s a point to it … unlike life.”
*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 9*=Nine Stars (maximum 10)