Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton; Quantum of Solace) was a part of the secretarial pool heading to what she thought was another assignment. Instead, she ended up in the Ministry's Department of Communication – film division. The screenwriters needed help in the form of the "female voice" and Catrin was tapped to fill that void. The minute she steps into the room she butts heads with writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin; Me Before You) who gives her a hard time.
The two begin working on a propaganda film that goes through numerous changes and rewrites and includes an old time actor, Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest), in the cast who is less than pleased about playing the part of the elderly uncle. Catrin must nimbly navigate her way through Buckley and Hilliard to earn their respect and be taken seriously as a screenwriter at a time when women were seen mostly as "decoration". While the film evolves so does Catrin and her relationships with both men.
Based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half, Their Finest is a well-written screenplay by Gaby Chiappe (EastEnders) that tells a few different compelling stories woven into one movie. There is, of course, the war and the havoc it wreaks on London. There is the aging actor who must be treated with kid gloves, something at which Catrin excels. There is the evolution of her relationship with Tom and there is the growth and change we watch Catrin go through. All could be individual films on their own but that are intertwined beautifully into a well-orchestrated script. None of the story lines overpower the others and all plots are fleshed out nicely through to the end.
The cast is one of the gems of this movie. Arterton combines an inner strength with an outward vulnerability and naiveté to create the perfect Catrin. She is sweet and mild but possesses a fire hidden underneath the surface that she doesn't even realize she has. Arterton portrays this magnificently. Claflin is a favorite of mine so maybe I'm a little bias but I thought he did a beautiful job as well. Nighy is a master at characterizations and his turn as Hilliard is superb. One can't help but pity him while feeling a sense of loathing for his superior attitude and unrealistic expectations about his life and career.
The combo pack offers the DVD as well as a Digital Download. The video quality is what is to be expected on a standard DVD but I enjoyed the audio quite a bit and I could hear the effects move across the channels especially when the bombs were raining down on London. The DVD has two features, an eight plus minute segments called Flickers of Hope: The Making of Their Finest and, audio commentary with Director Lone Scherfig. Both had some interesting tidbits to be explored.
While the film starts off slow it picks up steam quickly and runs away with it. As mentioned previously, it has several subplots that all come together to form this unique whole which doesn't disappoint.