When Billl Nighy crops up in a film trailer, you know it’s going to be a British comedy with heart. When Gemma Arterton crops up in a film trailer, you know it’s going to be a British comedy or drama with passion. The two deliver here just as you want, and amidst a backdrop of WWII, an era that never loses movie appeal, it’s a strong British slice of wartime nostalgia.
However....when Gemma wasn’t on-screen or when everyone else in the cast was, I found myself a little bored. For a film under 2hrs, it certainly drags its feet through the main act. The era this story is set in is one based on fact more than fiction - the “Blitz” bombing of London, the power of morale boosting cinema and the struggle women had in making their voice heard in a male dominated war was tough enough. We are treated to all these things as well as exploring how the British Ministry of Information battled the Nazis, giving us a new slant on the era and with no action on the front lines.
We also see a period less covered in films such as this - the bombing raids of London which forced evacuations of children and hundreds of families into underground tube stations for cover. It’s a haunting thread running throughout, and the few times the danger comes too close to home, we are reminded of the severity of the situation and there are some nice emotive moments.
Dunkirk, too, is also heavily focused on here - albeit with a more comedic slant that becomes apparent during the film which you may find amusing or you may find distracting - and nice to remind folks what that important operation was about. That is, before Christopher Nolan blows the topic out of the water with his film due in 2017.
As a British war-time film, this is as faithful as they come. Authentic set design, costumes and character portrayal from the likes of bespectacled Richard E Grant, lipstick heavy Rachael Stirling or the steadily irritating Sam Claflin. Claflin is one of the actors here I found to be really irritating the more he was on screen, and I found myself resenting him even trying to get close to Gemma Arterton who looks divine with her prim hair style, jumper and shirt combo and shapely figure. The things that happen to him during the film had little effect on me, which probably took away most of what Arterton was working on, but...that’s just me. I didn’t find him likable and so didn’t invest in him.
Many of a certain generation will enjoy this film. Those of a certain generation will revel in the memories coming back, and others will revel in a mixed-bag of British talent. On the whole I found it a very tedious affair at times, and not much kept me hooked which is a shame. But, it can’t please everyone and I’m just glad Gemma kept me company otherwise I’d have struggled.
And as this is a film from Lone Scherfig, don’t expect it all to go just as you think it will. There are plenty of little surprises and unexpected twists along the way to keep the war real, and keep the characters real - even if most of them bored or annoyed me.