‘Their Finest’ uplifts with charming verve, female empowerment

Filmmakers set out to capture the harrowing and miraculous World War II evacuation of Allied troops who were surrounded by the Nazis at the beaches of Dunkirk. This sounds like Christopher Nolan and his upcoming suspense war drama “Dunkirk,” right? Well, it’s actually the plot of the wartime dramedy, “Their Finest,” which could not be further from the tone of “Dunkirk.” Yet that’s to the film’s benefit. It knows what it is and lives with a lively, charming spirit that resonates with a sense of the times as much as whatever Nolan plans to do with his film will.

“Their Finest” follows Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) as she gets hired at the British Ministry of Information film division in London to write the “slop” — what men of the time describe as women’s dialogue. England is in the midst of The Blitz of World War II as London is being bombed almost nightly. The country needs some sort avenue through which they can find hope again. Thus, Cole is brought on with screenwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and aging star Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) to a project about Dunkirk, specifically about twins who stole their father’s boat to sail across the English Channel for the effort. Buckley describes the evacuation as putting “the fire back in our bellies,” and they all hope the film will too.

While the film could’ve been an overly sentimental mess, losing itself in its various efforts, “Their Finest” ends up a crowd-pleaser of the highest order, and that’s thanks to the direction of…

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