This week I had a date night with Nanny Kim and we both went to Chapter Arts to check out Their Finest, a film set during the Blitz focusing on a young lady who is hired to help write propaganda films during World War 2.
It’s been a while since I’ve been the cinema and Nanny Kim and I were both excited! Before we went in we had a cheeky pint at the very lovely bar. There’s such a great vibe at Chapter, with a myriad of people and it always reminds me of growing up with my Dad working at Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham.
We were directed to Screen 2 by a very lovely gentleman, who told us how much he’d enjoyed the film, it was so lovely to receive such a warm welcome and I kind of wanted to give him a little hug afterwards (don’t worry, I stopped myself!). Screen 2 is such a little gem, with a starry spotlight ceiling and extremely comfortable chairs. As we watched the trailers Nanny Kim whispered to me, ‘This is how a film should be presented…’ as she marvelled at the changeover from trailers to the movie. I was lovely to be with someone as passionate about film as me, especially the presentation and outstanding environment created by the lighting, textures and seating.
The film opened with Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) being offered a job to join the writing team for propaganda films. Gemma is a strong, beautiful and moving force in all of her roles, but there was such a sense of frailty with this particular character, and when she cried, we cried…
For me, Their Finest is a love story, and I was reminded of the very beautiful yet tragic Atonement as I watched lives ripped apart by war as well as the actions of others. I felt very drawn to both Catrin and the man who wins her heart, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin). Sam Claflin is just one of those actors who melts my heart; his performance was breathtaking.
I felt their connection from the start of the film, so for me it was a question of when, when will they embrace and turn the wartime film on its head with a happy ending? The film certainly made me wait for the moment between them that I longed for, and it was well worth it. The tension between them built and then blossomed into a crescendo of kisses…
I’m not going to say much more about their relationship, but I will say, if you’re anything like me, take some tissues.
The other strong theme Nanny Kim and I both loved was the incredible sense of ‘girl power’ and the concept of challenging gender stereotypes. The whole concept of writing a film to empower and champion the British people is fascinating, and with Catrin on their team they’re able to write a story of female strength, battling on throughout the misery and heartache of war. The writing process of the propaganda film was particularly fascinating to watch, three people bouncing off each other, creating a beginning and an end and filling in all the gaps.
Phyl Moore (Rachael Stirling) offered a stunning, slightly androgynous character full of wit and a dash of humour. I adore Rachael Stirling, first seeing her in Tipping the Velvet, and she keeps getting better. Her performance went from distant and frosty, to observant and kind, and I felt she, like all the characters were completely well-rounded and three-dimensional.
Of course, Bill Nighy never fails to amuse, and his role was funny, arrogant, thoughtful and slightly resembling his 2003 Billy Mack character in Love Actually. I really enjoyed his story, from the acting to the loss of a friend to falling in love, he too had many ups and downs during the film.
One thing I adored about the whole film was the costume, from corduroys to fastened hats to pencil skirts, I longed to be a part of their very neat, very warm world. This, alongside the horror of the war, made for a film with rich textures, colours and relationships. I particularly liked the true and brutal honestly of the bombings, the death and destruction, people gone in a flash, lives never the same again…
I left the cinema feeling the need to grab my loved ones and hold them close, to enjoy every moment and of course, it also reminded me of how lucky we are to be alive.
Their Finest is simply, as Tom Buckley would say, mustard…
Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.