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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Their Finest is a drama set in World War II Great Britain about the production of a patriotic movie meant to raise spirits on the home front. There's plenty of humor but many more moments of mournfulness and longing related to the strain of living under constant siege from the Germans' relentless Blitz. The violent toll of war is shown in everyday encounters/experiences -- as when a woman happens upon a fellow Londoner dead on the street after yet another explosion. There's also occasional swearing ("bloody," "ass," and "f--k"), a brief flash of nudity during a sex scene (a woman's breasts are visible), and drinking and period-accurate smoking. With courage as a clear theme, the movie praises the significant role of women during World War II, with the main character (played by Gemma Arterton) discovering both untapped inner strength and a true talent for writing.
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What's the story?
As World War II rages, a London film crew works on a movie intended to boost the battered nation's morale in THEIR FINEST. Catrin (Gemma Arterton) is hired to work on the script after embellishing the facts of a Dunkirk-related rescue story to her superiors. As the movie progresses from rough outline to finished production, Catrin must prove her talent -- as well as contend with her growing feelings for her brusque co-writer, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), and her complicated relationship with live-in artist boyfriend Ellis (Jack Huston). Bill Nighy co-stars as one of the key characters on the film-within-a-film.
Is it any good?
This World War II drama sparkles with wit, grace, and surprising humor. It ignores all of the usual ways to tell WWII stories, instead tackling events from the point of view of those who were left behind in London and tasked with boosting morale and helping to bring the United States into the Allies' fold. The storyline also mines the challenges that women faced at the time, as well as the heartache that the British had to manage by, yes, keeping calm and carrying on in the face of constant bombings and adversity.
This war story is set not on the battlefields -- though we do learn about them -- but on the city streets and in the citizenry's inner resolve. To a person, the cast is superb, though Arterton and Claflin are sometimes overshadowed by an even more finely tuned supporting cast. Another (small) quibble: The film is a tad overlong, with a few too many characters to track, though that's forgivable given the finished product. Their Finest is fine filmmaking indeed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Their Finest addresses the ways that women were treated during World War II. How did women's work change during the war? How is this depicted in the film?
Why is Catrin's work early in the film referred to as "slop"? Why don't her superiors consider women's dialogue meaningful? How does her work over the course of the movie change others' opinions?
How does the movie convey the harsh toll of WWII? Do you need violent battlefield scenes to show the impact of war?
- In theaters: April 7, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: July 11, 2017
- Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy
- Director: Lone Scherfig
- Studio: EuropaCorp
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, History
- Character Strengths: Courage
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some language and a scene of sexuality
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