This adaptation of Lissa Evans’s 2009 novel Their Finest Hour and a Half is sort of like Britain’s uninspired answer to Hidden Figures, if the real-life minority female heroes that helped get an American into space were merely a Welsh woman breaking through British filmmaking’s glass ceiling.
Catrin Cole (one-time Bond girl Gemma Arterton) is chosen to write the “slop”—i.e., female dialogue—for an inspiring World War II film about Dunkirk. While winning over stuffy actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy, who improves every movie he is in) by providing him with high drama, she also cutely spars with bristly screenwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin, who comes off like the poor chap’s Michael Fassbender).
Their Finest shines when depicting the funny ins and outs of wartime British filmmaking, mostly thanks to the strength of Nighy’s former star. The romantic bits slow the whole picture down, while never feeling endemic to the narrative. The romance between Catrin and Tom is not only formulaic but forced—a deadly duo for a rom-dram-com.
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