Their Finest (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 30-Aug-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy / Drama Audio Commentary-Director Lone Scherfig
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 116:44
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lone Scherfig
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Gemma Arterton
Sam Claflin
Bill Nighy
Jack Huston
Paul Ritter
Henry Goodman
Francesca Knight
Lily Knight
Jake Lacey
Richard E Grant
Eddie Marsan
Helen McCrory
Jeremy Irons
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English Descriptive Audio DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, constantly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"Don't confuse facts with truth, and, for Christ's sake, don't let either of them get in the way of the story."Tom Buckley

     London 1940; England stands alone against Nazi Germany and London is being bombed as Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is called to the Ministry of Information. She thinks she is going for a secretarial job but instead, due to some articles she has written, Catrin has been noticed by Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) of the Ministry’s film department; her role is to add a feminine slant to the dialogue in propaganda films that are being produced to keep English spirits up but she quickly clashes with aging and egotistical actor Ambrose Hillard (Bill Nighy).

     Buckley also works with legendary producer Gabriel Baker (Henry Goodman) and when he reads the story of twin sisters Rose and Lily Starling (Lily and Francesca Knight) who stole their father’s boat and sailed to Dunkirk to help rescue the stranded British soldiers, this seems the perfect opportunity to make a film showing British courage and fortitude and to raise morale. He asks Catrin to help Parfitt (Paul Ritter) and himself write the script; Catrin asks, and receives, extra money as she is supporting her husband Ellis (Jack Huston), a war artist who had been wounded in the Spanish Civil War.

     Although it is quickly established that the sisters never got to France, the engine of their boat breaking down 5 miles from the British coast, this does not stop the project; “we pick our truths” says Tom. But as the film goes into production, shooting in Devon, there are more challenging problems for Tom and Catrin than truth; Hillard is cast but is unhappy with his character and the dialogue, the ministry wants script changes (you cannot have the boat’s engine break down as this would reflect poorly on British industry), to inspire America to get into the war the Government requires an American character added into the script and provides the production with Carl Lundbeck (Jake Lacey), an American who is currently serving with the RAF but who, unfortunately, has no acting talent at all, finally, there is the growing attraction between Tom and Catrin. And of course, the war, tragedy and death are never far away.

     Their Finest is directed by Dane Lone Scherfig, an interesting choice given that Their Finest is a very British comedy. What probably attracted her is that Their Finest has a number of things to say about the position of women in 1940s Britain both in respect to Catrin, who is informed that she cannot be paid the same as men although doing the same job, and of the twin women within the film who are not considered able of doing anything heroic; that must be left to men! Their Finest is told from the perspective of Catrin, who is seldom off the screen, and it does also have a strong female presence behind the camera; besides Scherfig, the film is based upon the book Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans and the screenplay is by Gaby Chiappe, who both have small parts in the film, and the score is by Rachel Portman, who has 98 credits listed on the IMDb and was an Oscar winner for Emma (1996).

     Gemma Arterton is delightful as a young woman finding her way in life, love, and the movies. She was great fun in Quantum of Solace (2008), and although she came to an oily end in that film she just about stole every scene she was in. Her Catrin is determined, intelligent, feisty when required but still very vulnerable and feminine, and her burgeoning but understated relationship with Sam Claflin’s Tom Buckley is touching and sweet. The other standout performance comes from Bill Nighy who is fabulous portraying Hillard’s ego, insecurities and eccentricities to a tee. There is also a lot to enjoy in the supporting, often quirky and wry, characters; Rachael Stirling as Phyl Moore, forbidding and feminist but with some very good advice for Catrin, Eddie Marsan and Helen McCrory as Hillard’s agents, Richard E Grant as the Ministry official and Jeremy Irons as the Secretary of War, having fun in a wonderful scene.

     Their Finest is quite funny with its witty dialogue and insightful observations on the film business, propaganda, manipulation and gender roles. It is also much like what we see of the propaganda film; romantic, sentimental, stiff upper lip and carry on, manipulative and a bit with a dog (although Their Finest manages to avoid the dog), although Their Finest adds very abrupt changes in tone, throwing in sudden tragedies that feel too great a change. Yet, at the end, like the audience watching the finished film The Rose Starling (a reference to the boat the twins used) in the theatre, you could have a smile on your face and a tear in your eye.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Their Finest is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a deliberately soft and muted looking film, befitting 1940 wartime London. There are grey skies, drab buildings, uniforms and clothing, dark rooms with light streaming in from windows behind the actors and seldom a bright colour in view. The overall palate is brown. The exterior shoot in South Wales (standing in for Devon) is somewhat brighter although the sky, sand and grass are more natural the colours are seldom vibrant. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, skin tones natural, the contrast does vary with the lighting. Marks and artefacts were absent.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. Small white subtitles also automatically translate a couple of non-English sentences.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     The audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1 plus there is an English descriptive audio using a female voice and an English commentary track (both DTS-HD MA 2.0).

     This is a nice audio track. Dialogue is clear. The rears and surrounds are generally in use with ambient sounds such as rain, seagulls, motors, bomber engines overhead or the voices on a film set plus the score while the explosions of the bombs and debris are loud and reverberate. The subwoofer added boom at appropriate times such as the explosions or engines and to the rumble on the film set.

     The original orchestral score by Rachel Portman was low key, poignant and effective. Some period songs were also included.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
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Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary

     Director Lone Scherfig speaks about integrating archival propaganda films into Their Finest, directing the insert The Rose Starling film, locations, the source novel and where characters were based on real people, the cast, plot points, the score, period songs, her own experiences working on film sets, the costumes, scenes where the later death of a major character is “seeded”. There are some silences but she is a pleasant speaker and this is worth a listen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US Blu-ray of Their Finest adds a Spanish dub and Flickers of Hope: The Making of Their Finest which runs only 8:18 and is reported to be a standard EPK. I suppose that makes the Region A the better version but it hardly seems worth importing for that.

Summary

     Their Finest, with delightful performances by Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy and some insightful observations about the film business, propaganda, manipulation and gender roles, is funny, romantic, sentimental and manipulative. Yet, the film is so good-hearted, pleasant and entertaining it gets away with it!

     The video and audio are fine. The sole extra is a decent audio commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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