First Hit: A very sweet and thoughtful film about making a propaganda film in World War II England.
The story takes place in London during war time and between the German buzz bombing. Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) interviews for, what she thinks is, a secretarial position at the Ministry of Information only to discover she gets the job as scriptwriter for propaganda films. She needs to money as she is supporting herself and her, almost, husband Ellis Cole (Jack Huston) who is an artist and was injured in Spanish Civil War. She's not officially married to Ellis but wears a wedding ring and takes his name.
The British propaganda films, designed to motivate the population to work hard for the war effort, are not being well received. Fellow writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) is hard on Catrin because she’s a woman and screenwriting is a man’s world.
However, he sends her on an assignment based on a newspaper article where twin women stole their father’s boat to go to Dunkirk to help save the lives of men. When Catrin interviews the women, she discovers that the boat stopped off shore. Never getting to Dunkirk, they did get wounded home because some of the boats that came from Dunkirk were overloaded and those boats gave them wounded personnel to take home.
The written article makes it more than what they did, but Catrin, Tom and the film making team make a variation of the adventure. The film uses an older famous actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) as part of the characters and as the only strong actor, he has ideas of how the plot and his part needs to go.
However, he begins to trust Catrin’s writing as she knows what she’s doing and when writing in concert with Tom, they excel.
What was interesting was this film also showed how important women were and their strength in helping the country defeat Germany. It also showed how people had to scale back their lives to support the war effort. I genuinely enjoyed watching Catrin watch the film she wrote and how the audience around her were engaged with the story. This was touching.
Arterton was fantastic in this role. Her reserved, yet expressive ways through the film created a wonderful character. Huston was good as the injured artist. Buckley was strong as Catrin’s fellow writer. His disbelief in women being able to write subtlety changing as the film enfolds was wonderful. Nighy was superb as the aristocratic and self-obsessed actor who comes to appreciate what he has. Gaby Chiappe wrote a wonderful screenplay, which unfolded with greater strength as the film went on. Lone Scherfig did a great job of directing this story and keeping the feel of the time and how films were constructed in the 1940’s just right.
Overall: I was surprised by how much I liked and felt this film as it moved along.