Rohan meets the cast and director of Their Finest

18th April, 2017

To celebrate the release of new British historical drama Their Finest, we sent young reporter Rohan along to catch up with the film's stars, actors Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin, and the film's director Lone Sherfig. 

Their Finest sees a team from the Ministry of Information tasked with making a morale-boosting film about Britain's World War II campaign, attempting to put a positive spin on such devastating events as the Blitz and the Dunkirk evacuation.

In the interviews below, Sam Claflin discusses how he would react if faced with a war scenario today, what's exciting about the access young people now have to filmmaking compared to the period depicted in the film, and reveals the first film he fell in love with at the cinema (hint: dinosaurs!). Gemma Arterton, meanwhile, talks about her own finest triumphs over difficult times, the transformative effect that film can have on a person's mood and life, and the messages that young women can take from watching her character in Their Finest.

Speaking to director Lone Scherfig, Rohan quizzed her on the challenges of adapting the novel to screen, what it was like filming Blitz sequences in an genuine abandoned tube station in London, the use of archive footage in the film, and the impact the war ultimately had on equality for women. Scherfig also highlights her hopes that the film will inspire plenty of future screenwriters and filmmakers to start telling their stories.

Watch Rohan's fantastic Their Finest interviews below, and be sure to read his review of the film at the bottom of the page.

Rohan reviews Their Finest

While discussing the merits of fictionalising history, Sam Claflin's cynical screenwriter quips that "film is life with all the boring bits cut out", which serves surprisingly well to describe Their Finest. With a thick script of witticisms, romantic overtones and the horror of the WW2 home front, Lone Scherfig's latest isnt given the room to breathe it sometimes warrants. Instead it hurtles from entertaining scene to horrific scene to sad scene without fully exploring some truly interesting themes, which does dampen the entertainment.

The story, concerning the making of a (fictional) propaganda film about the Miracle of Dunkirk, is genuinely original; and Scherfig's use of lenses to show the film-within-the-film is insightful to the time. Additionally, the acting ensemble gives Their Finest a great amount of charm. Gemma Arterton is sincerely likable as Catrin Cole, a young copywriter who begins working at the Military of Information to relieve her beleaguered husband (Jack Huston), while Claflin is wonderful as her screwball superior. Though their chemistry is lacking, there is an earnest nature to their scenes together that makes it easy to be swept up by the filmmaking journey the pair go on.

The most notable performance in the film, however, which is so scene-stealing it threatens to undermine the entire thing, is Billy Nighy - playing a veteran film actor (with the delicious name of Ambrose Hilliard). Nighy is at his quintessential egotistical best throughout, and he handles the gulf between comedy and tragedy with great dexterity; particularly during his scenes with his agents - played by Eddie Marsan and Helen McCrory.

Where Their Finest is weakest, however, comes not from juggling multiple storylines (if anything, this is one of the strongest elements of the film), but instead from juggling the tone. Though the film tries to maintain a satisfying warmth, some choice swear words jolt, stopping you from becoming fully immersed in the story. It also lacks in threat, as the stakes seem surprisingly low considering Their Finest's setting.

Overall, Their Finest represents a sincere attempt to appraise an often overlooked part of the war effort. Though at times the storytelling is slightly cack-handed, this is a film that is easy to like. The characters are fun to be around and the script is aware enough to avoid becoming distracted with unnecessary embellishments. Though developments later on in the film might disappoint some fans, I think Their Finest is definitely worth seeking out for its clever understanding of cinema, war and truth.

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