Buvette Masthead

Review: Their Finest

Roslyn Hull

A former secretary, newly appointed as a scriptwriter for propaganda films, joins the cast and crew of a major production while the Blitz rages around them. IMDb

Fluffy dressing gowns and PJs on sale.

Perfume and chocolate ads everywhere.

Crawford’s boxed sets of forgotten TV series being peddled during Masterchef … Mothers Day must be close at hand!

If you don’t want to buy pyjamas, perfume or Pandoras, if you aren’t up for battling the hordes to win a table for brunch you could always take your mum to the movies. Treat her to a choc top or splurge on a combo pack as well. But what to see?

Mums of a ‘certain age’ (at least 10 years older than I am now) might not get the gags in Guardians of the Galaxy and almost certainly will develop a headache from the revving engines in Fate of the Furious. However, there is little to offend in this low-key British battler.

As World War II rages in the skies above London a young woman with a sassy line in advertising dialogue is hired to bring a woman’s perspective to the gentlest of propagandas – the wartime cinema. The sass is extremely genteel though as this is England and it is barely 1940.


The cast is absolutely peppered with top British actors keeping their upper lips suitably stiff and the sub-plots, particularly anything to do with Bill Nighy, are as entertaining as the main story. It is great to see Sam Claflin not playing someone young and beautiful and I thought he handled his characterisation quite well. I enjoy Gemma Arterton’s screen presence but I am yet to be convinced of her acting ability as she is so restrained she can appear a bit wooden.

The Devon locations are lovely and the London scenes are very well done. The costuming is accurate and spartanly elegant and all elements contribute to a delicious production. I particularly loved the filmmaking scenes and the depiction of the film they are making – all washed out colour, Oxford English and homemade special effects.

I don’t know much about the Danish director, Lone Scherfig, or the book the film is based on, Their Finest Hour and a Half, but the result is funny, often due to the casual discrimination of the times, and ultimately satisfying, notwithstanding a tragedy in the final act. Gentler readers might need to take some tissues.

The story is a solid attempt at pairing the sort of humour that got the English through the horror of the Blitz with the sort of film that helped them do so. Nobly and understatedly British it has a good laugh at itself but never removes itself far from the theatre of war and the senseless loss that accompanies it.

Roslyn saw this film as a guest of Dendy Cinemas 


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

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