Monday, 1 May 2017

Their Finest (2017)

Britain finds itself in need of a moral boost and support from the Americans, so the government finances the production of a propaganda movie about Dunkirk.

A typically British comedy-drama (though admittedly directed by a Dane) that, for better or worse, is gentle and quaint in approach and amiable enough though not quite what I was in the mood for on the day.

Watching films about people making films is clearly nothing new. Indeed, Hollywood likes to churn plenty out on a yearly basis so that it can massage it's own ego (but this is British cinema, so this will probably just quietly come and go). And 'Their Finest' doesn't exactly offer anything new to the genre despite the WWII setting, which is something that I'm left unsure as to how intentional that was.

Considering what some characters say and do, and how the film is written, trundling after various cliches and predictable plot developments actually kind of make sense (it's reminiscent of how 'The Player' has the Hollywood ending because it's meant to). However, at the same time, it feels a bit too naive to get away with that excuse and the predictability of it all may just be that they just couldn't do anything better.

I would say that it wasn't an issue, which may be the case when you take the film as a whole, but there are moments where it was a bit irritating. The film expects you to get invested with it's characters and their plights but it can be a bit difficult when they follow such foreseeable paths. Which is something the film does address as the characters discuss the difference between a story and real life (with the story having more of a reassuring structure that is meant to have meaning and such - hence why I'm not too sure how intentional the predictability is) but that doesn't necessarily justify why the film ends up recycling what it does in the way that it does it. Various plot developments and aspects of the war are handled in a very straight-forward and familiar manner that end up having the opposite effect on me as I started to lose to interest.

Saying that, however, I won't deny that the film has it's charms with its seemingly simple ways. It may not have been what I wanted on the day (thanks especially to them showing the advert for Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' prior to this film about making a film about Dunkirk - I just wanted to see that film) but I was able to appreciate the film's appeal. And when the film turns it's attention onto making the film within the film (and away from the romance and war), it's undeniably a lot of fun with the highlight of the film being one scene where they have to make a real life story more appealing to the masses and so the writers start spitballing the ideas and distorting the story to something completely different.

Happily, there are plenty of moments based around the film-making that kept me entertained enough to overcome the parts I didn't feel like investing myself in. What the film amounts to is something that likably pleasant, if also uninspiringly predictable (which is a bit rich for me to say considering how what I've just said is an uninspiringly predictable thing to say myself) that may be better suited to home viewing than something you'd watch at the cinema.

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