It is 1940 and Britain is once again at war. With air raid sirens becoming a part of their daily lives, the ordinary men and women on the home front seek escape from reality on the big screen. The Ministry of Information, headed by Roger Swain (Richard E. Grant) is tasked by the Secretary of War (Jeremy Irons) with the job of spreading propaganda stories of positivity and optimism to garner support for the war effort.
In an era when women are treated as second-class citizens, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), a former secretary, is brought in to help scriptwriter, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), write the female voice – a.k.a. the “slop” – in a film about a rescue at Dunkirk.
Since the war effort has taken away Britain’s biggest stars, casting becomes a difficult task. Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), once Britain’s third-most-popular star in the 1920s, struggles to stay relevant. His lunch meetings with his agent, Sammy Smith (Eddie Marsan), are comical until even those precious moments are taken away from him. Hilliard gets a new lease of life when Smith’s sister, Sophie (Helen McCrory) takes over managing his career.
Based on the novel by Lissa Evans, originally titled Their Finest Hour and a Half , Their Finest has been described as a feminist dramedy war story. With the female voice very much at the heart of this film, we see the struggles faced by an intelligent woman who is not trying to be “better than” her male colleagues, but simply to fit into a male-dominated world. She is not paid as much as her colleagues, and even as she enters the office she shares with her colleagues, she is relegated to a cramped corner, not so much because she is being bullied, but because she is not given the kind of respect one would expect of colleagues. Continue reading