Bombs fall in the streets of London. A struggling painter fails to make ends meet and a beautiful young woman moves up the ladder from secretary to copywriter to scriptwriter, all within the space of two hours. Their Finest is a film based upon a book loosely inspired by Winton Churchill's famous speech, "Their Finest Hour." Here, Churchill boosted the morale of a nation under threat of a potential Nazi victory. Great Britain rose to the occasion in one of their truly "finest hours" and defeated Germany. The film uses this historical data as the backdrop to create a vivid tale that is a love story, drama, and comedy. It is also a comment and meditation upon the role of art in a world of chaos. There is no love without sacrifice and artistic creation is most times born out of personal loss.
Their Finest is as much about loss as it is a reflection upon art, love, war and the evolving role of women. From this lens, the film is clearly a feminist statement about finding your voice and gaining respect in a man's world. From an artistic lens, the film is an exploration of self-referentiality, a meditation upon the literary devices of presence and absence. Clearly, the film shatters the false distinction between the viewer and the viewed, between the audience and the show. The film makes it clear that while we are all part of the audience, we are all also part of the show. The artifice of fiction is exposed here as we get a close look at the cuts and editing techniques used to create the film within the film. As we watch actors playing actors, we are made conscious that the art of "watching" is clearly a voyeuristic enterprise.
Big movie productions are all about artifice and convention. La La Land brought us back to a similar world where we were reminded of our desire to be entertained, while simultaneously poking fun at the nostalgia of happy endings. The boy doesn't get the girl at the end of La La Land, anymore than smitten lovers live happily ever after in Their Finest. We all want storybook lives, but that is rarely if ever how we live. It is the job of movies to make us either aware of this collective fantasy by pointing out this artifice, or to indulge these escapist fantasies with a sense of whimsical fun. Choose your poison here, sit back and enjoy the show. Their Finest takes you back to the grandeur of 1940's film making, when art could either be exposed for its fiction or celebrated for its respite from life.