Their Finest is now available to buy / rent and I’d solidly recommend it. It tells the story of a young woman (Gemma Arterton) who is employed to write realistic women’s dialogue (‘slop’ as it’s called in the film) in WWII propaganda reels and starts writing a feature film, based on the experience of two young women, about the evacuation of Dunkirk.
What I liked about the film was that, and this is no claim of documentary realism, it feels like the behind the scenes view of a Powell and Pressburger film… or at least as one would dream it to be. And that’s the key, the heart and the message are in the right place. It’s a film that knows the importance of myth and hope. It’s funny and heartbreaking, there’s love, a bit with a dog and Bill Nighy is on top form doing his best Bill Nighy impression.
Along with The Time Traveller’s Wife (2009) and The Butterfly Effect (2004), Richard Curtis’ film About Time forms part of a trio of intriguing biological time travel movies. It’s too long by about 30 minutes but buried in there is a small, in the good sense, loving story about boys and their dads. It works well because it does the whole sentimental family story thing whilst using the dramatic device of time travel to foreground the idea that growing up means taking the place of your parents.
The scenes between the father (Bill Nighy doing Bill Nighy) and son (Domhnall Gleeson doing young Hugh Grant / idealised Richard Curtis) are priceless, with the final one utterly sublime, and all scenes with Tom Hollander are, as usual, just utterly watchable.
Of the three films mentioned above, I think that The Butterfly Effect is the better one because it’s pure pulp and that covers it’s sins. The tragedy of The Time Traveller’s Wife, which is otherwise a good film, is that it’s about the time-traveller rather than his wife.