It’s 1940 England, the War is raging across Europe and America has yet to enter the fray. A young welsh girl has come to London and her talent for writing female characters in comic strips is noticed by the propaganda men. They want her to write short cinematic films to inspire the women of England to join in the effort in any way that they can. When a chance comes along to turn a real life story into a cinematic event, she’s placed on the writing team, and it changes her life forever.
I enjoyed this film. That’s the first thing that I have to say. But it’s so sweet that I think my diabetes has spiked since watching it.
Gemma Arterton stars as Catherine, who has left the Valleys of Wales behind for a man she loves, who is unable to join the war effort due to an injury. When she is tasked with helping the propaganda machine get the women of England more involved with the war effort. She’s thrown off set during one of the shoots by a has been actor, ably played by Bill Nighy, when a chance to help write a feature comes along. The lead writer on the project Tom Buckley, played by Me Before You star Sam Claflin, is starting to fall for Catherine as well as being the one fighting her corner.
It’s a film that has a good pace, it’s not offensive in any way, but there is just something that is stopping it from being outstanding. The really sweet nature of the main characters means that there is a lot of conflict that would have provided a harder edge. It’s missing that edge to take it to a place where it needs to be.
The cast all do their jobs very well, again you can’t fault it, it’s just that everyone does everything that is expected of them. Bill Nighy is a case in point. It’s as though this is just a sleepwalk through his previous roles, especially those set during the 40’s. The same could be said of Claflin and Arterton. There are times in their previous roles show up again and you’re there just feeling cheated.
There are times you laugh, the drama is good enough, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the film. That is the problem, there are no risks taken, every conflict that turns up for Catherine is easily solved, much more so than would have been the case in reality. Even the conflict with Germany is sweetened up to remove the darkness from the film. We needed that to show the true danger of the world that these people were living in.
This is the type of film you’d take your Mother too, that elderly relative that doesn’t want to be tested when they go to the cinema, someone who doesn’t want to engage their brain cells and talk about the good old days. Entertaining and sweet, well acted and confident, just without anything to inspire you to remember it passed half an hour after viewing it.
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writers: Gaby Chiappe (screenplay), Lissa Evans (novel)
Stars: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy