Movie review: Their Finest 

Movie reviews

Hello!

The first movie of the year focused on the battle of Dunkirk – Their Finest – has reached theaters, so, let’s review it.

IMDb summary: A British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg.

While Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (premiering in July) will tackle and reproduce the actual battle and the evacuation, Lone Scherfig’s film Their Finest is a story about a war propaganda film, based on a fictional story related to the real-life events at Dunkirk, produced in order to raise the patriotism of the nation. The genres and tones of the 2 movies differ vastly: one looks like a grim and serious action drama, while another one is a lighter comedy drama with some romance thrown in as well.

On top of being one of the two films about Dunkirk, Their Finest interested me for 3 reasons: 1. I wanted to see the representation of the British propaganda and how it differed or was similar to the Soviet propaganda – the kind that I’m more familiar with from history classes and from just generally growing up in Eastern/Northern Europe. 2. I have always enjoyed films about filmmaking and as this one centered on screenwriters – an occupation that I would like to pursue – my interest was peaked. 3. The movie started Sam Claflin – an actor, whose career I’ve been following pretty closely. So, let’s see if Their Finest is as ‘fine’ of a picture as the title suggests!

Writing

Their Finest was written by a TV writer Gaby Chiappe, based on novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans. From the technical standpoint, the writing for the film was very nice: the narrative was well structured and rich with ideas. Whether or not the ideas worked, is a very subjective question. I, personally, really liked some of the themes but was equally frustrated by the others.

To begin with, the picture focused a lot on the relationship between Gemma Arterton’s and Sam Claflin’s characters. I highly disliked the fact that their professional relationship had to be turned into a romantic one by the end of the film. I find that this happens in a lot of stories, even in the contemporary ones. For example, the way J.K.Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is portraying the relationship between the two main characters in her Cormoran Strike Series irritates me a lot. And yet, going back to the relationship between the characters in Their Finest, if I considered the said relationship’s romantic aspect separately, I thought that it did work and was convincing. The two individuals seemed pretty evenly matched and their sparring was entertaining to watch. The sudden end to the relationship was also emotionally effective. At first, I deemed that the end might have been too sudden but I later I’ve realized that the scriptwriters intended it to be that way and to convey a message that one never knows what might happen in war.

The second big theme of the picture was Gemma Arterton’s character’s growth as an individual. Her personal story acted very much as a symbol for a lot of women’s stories during the war – how they have finally begun to transition from the domestic spaces into the public ones. Sadly, this process is still is progress, 70+ years later. I thought that the main character was developed quite nicely – I wish we would have found out more about her background and upbringing in Wales, but I really liked her subtle journey towards independence.

Thirdly, the movie explored the screenwriting and the filmmaking business. I really loved this particular aspect of the film and just loved the fact that Their Finest celebrated the movies and tried finding positive attributes of cinema even if it was political cinema. I simply loved Sam Claflin’s character’s enthusiasm about and love for the pictures, especially since his character otherwise seemed really pessimistic and ironic. I could identify with this type of depiction very closely. The way the movie played up the uber-poshness of the actors and of the British actors, to be specific, with Bill Nighy’s character was also really fun.

Lastly, Their Finest dealt with the propaganda filmmaking, not just simple filmmaking. Not only did this type of story provided a different perspective on war, but it also proved to me that the types of propaganda don’t vary much from country to country. Like the Soviet propaganda, some of the British propaganda was very obvious but some of it was something more, just like the-picture-within-the-picture in Their Finest or a real life example, such as Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. And yet, since both Their Finest and The Nancy Starling (a-movie-within-a-movie) stressed the importance of optimism and happy endings, I can’t help but wonder where exactly did the cinematic propaganda end?

Directing

Their Finest was directed by Lone Scherfig. Although the director is Danish, I thought that she nailed the British feeling of the film. She has already done that earlier with The Riot Club – that movie has really made me question my adoration of the British culture quite a bit. So, Their Finest resembled the previous historic UK-based movies that I’ve reviewed, like SuffragetteTestament of Youthand Far From The Madding Crowd. The fact that the movie was executed with the classical stationary camera work and the steady frame, also added an appropriate old-school yet timeless feel to the picture. The pacing of the picture was also very even. 

Acting

Gemma Arterton played the lead in the film and did a really good job. I hope that this is a career-changing role for her, as so far she has been starring in mostly B-level pictures, like Clash of the TitansPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Hansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersI really loved how subtle yet powerful her performance was. My favorite line of hers was the last words to the boyfriend: ‘You shouldn’t have painted me that small’. Her delivery was brilliant. I also though that Arterton’s chemistry with the co-star Sam Claflin was really good and believable. I loved Claflin’s character and the actor’s performance. It was so interesting to see a writer who can express oneself well enough of paper but struggles to do the same face to face. After starting his big screen career by acting the big action flicks, like Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and The Hunger Games franchise, Claflin has mostly stuck to dramas recently, including 2014’s Love, Rosie and 2016’s Me Before You. His next film is also a historical drama – My Cousin Rachel. He has also previously collaborated with the director of Their Finest on The Riot Club.

The supporting cast included established English actors Bill NighyHelen McCroryEddie Marsan, and Richard E. GranJack Huston (American Hustle, Hail, Caesar!and Ben-Hur) also had a minor role.

In short, Their Finest is a brilliant little movie, which, sadly, will be overlooked by the majority of movie-goers and buried by the blockbusters, including the one it shares the topic with. I highly recommend this film for all those interested in history and the art of filmmaking.

Rate: 4.3/5

Trailer: Their Finest trailer

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Movie review: Love, Rosie

Movie reviews

Hello!

Couple of months ago, I found a Beyond the Trailer channel’s review of Love, Rosie (directed by Christian Ditter) movie trailer and was intrigued to see this movie. As I always do, I decided to read the book first.

Book

The movie Love, Rosie is based on 2004 Cecelia Ahern’s book Where Rainbows End. (Her first and most famous book is P.S. I Love you which was made into a movie in 2007). Where Rainbows End is written in a different style than you would expect: it doesn’t have a continual, flowing story but is constructed from letters, e-mails and notes from one character to other. When I was younger, I have read a few books written in this style and didn’t like them much but this one was a total exception. I loved the fact that I got to know the same story from various characters’ point of view. Speaking about characters, the book follows the life of Rosie Dunne and those near and dear to her. Most important of them, is her best friend from childhood – Alex. The book covers the period of more than 40 years: from 6 to 50. Rosie overcomes a lot of obstacles in life and she is a truly inspirational woman. Her relationship with Alex is also one of a kind.

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Casting & Characters

Before reading the book, I knew who was cast to play these roles, so all the time I was imagining Lilly Collins as Rosie and Sam Claflin as Alex. I love both of these actors. Lily captivated me in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie (Yes, that movie wasn’t perfect but the casting choices were amazing and to the point and I adored the books by Cassandra Clare long before I saw the movie). Sam Claflin is my celebrity crush since his role in Catching Fire and from that point forward, I have been following his career closely. (I really want to see The Riot Club but I don’t think it will be showed in my country).

Changes

From what I had seen in the trailer, I came to the conclusion that they changed the story a lot, but I still think it will be quite a nice girls’ night out kind of movie. (Even the toughest girls love a bit of romance). Also, the book took a decade to be adapted to the big screen, so it’s natural that they would change some things to make it more relatable to contemporary movie goers.

Everything above was written before seeing the movie, below is the review.

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So, first of all, as it was expected, the movie covered a shorter period of time than the books. To my mind, this has been done for 2 reasons: firstly, it would be hard to age a 20+ something actor to look like a 50 year old. Even in today’s world with amazing computer effects and exceptional make up, it could possibly look weird and fake. Secondly, the movie would be extremely long if it tried to cover 40 years of story or it would have to make a huge time jumps which would make it hard to follow the story. So, to sum up, I completely agree with the decision to shorten the time period.

Another big group of changes was the supporting characters’ back stories. SPOILERS AHEAD. For example, Rosie met Ruby under completely different circumstances in the book than in the film. The story ark of Brian was given to Greg. Phil was turned into Alex’s friend not brother. They also changed the number of brothers and sisters Rosie had. Movie creators introduced the character of Herb and the whole other plotlines with him and Sally. Alex had no kids. They also turned Phil into love interest for Ruby. All of the characters were British and not Irish. I didn’t mind the changes; however, I wished one particular character from the book wasn’t left out of the movie – Mrs. Big Nose Smelly Breath Casey – Alex’s and Rosie’s teacher form school.

The main plot stayed almost the same with some part being left out. (For instance, the movie left out the plotline of Rosie working at school with her worst enemy form teenage years – teacher Mrs. Casey). This was due to the shortened period of time which I had already discussed. I wished the movie was longer and we could have spent more time with the characters. I also felt that, at times, the movie was a bit rushed because they just wanted to fit all of the big events into 90 minutes.

Acting

I really enjoyed both Lilly Collins and Sam Claflin in their roles and I definitely know what my tumblr dashboard is going to looks like for a few weeks. (If you have an obsession with Sam Claflin you are welcome here :). The chemistry between two main characters was believeable and hearth-warming.

Jaime Winstone was perfect Ruby, I wished I had a friend like her – witty, funny but always prepared to help. Christian Cooke as Greg/Brian form the book was surprisingly likeable character after he came back after 5 year hiatus. However, that changed quickly. The actor who played him seemed so familiar to me and I couldn’t remember why. Turns out he played Mercutio in last year’s Romeo and Juliet alongside Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld. But I still think that I remember him from somewhere else.

Suki Waterhouse did quite a nice job as Bethany and Tamsin Egerton was quite good as a complete b**ch Sallly.

Music

I really loved the soundtrack of the movie, especially the song where SPOILER Rosie punches Greg. Does someone know what song was that?

All in all, I enjoyed a movie a lot; it is definitely one of my top favorite romantic movies for sure. The actors were casted superbly; the story was interesting and entertaining even if a bit cliché and rushed at times. They also added much more funny moments and jokes into the film than there were in the books and these laugh out loud moments really made the movie seem lighter than it could have been. After all, it is the story of a young woman and huge obstacles in her life. To sum up, I recommend this movie for all the hopeless romantics out there and I only wish it could have been longer.

Rate 4.5/5

Trailer: Love, Rosie trailer

Photos: Google Images