Gemma Arterton (right) and Sam Claflin as Catrin and Buckley in the U.K. comedy-drama Their Finest. This film is part of the Kitchen Stove Film Festival screening in Penticton. Submitted photo

Kitchen Stove Film Festival kicks off with Their Finest

Penticton Art Gallery presents the Kitchen Stove Film Festival

The Kitchen Stove Film Festival returns, opening with the U.K. comedy-drama Their Finest.

With London emptied of its men now fighting at the Front, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton/Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia) is hired by the British Ministry of Information as a “slop” scriptwriter charged with bringing “a woman’s touch” to morale-boosting propaganda films.

Her natural flair quickly gets her noticed by dashing movie producer Buckley (Sam Claflin/Me Before You, The Hunger Games) whose path would never have crossed hers in peacetime.

Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig (An Education, The Riot Club) directs a sterling British cast — including Arterton, Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Jack Huston (American Hustle) and Richard E. Grant (Logan)— in this period comedy-drama that takes place during the London Blitz in the Second World War.

Catrin is inspired by the stories of British civilians, especially a pair of twin sisters, rescuing soldiers after the retreat at Dunkirk.

As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and a colourful crew work furiously to make a film that will warm the hearts of the nation. Although Catrin’s artist husband looks down on her job, despite the fact that it’s paying the rent, she quickly discovers there is as much camaraderie, laughter and passion behind the camera as there is onscreen.

While on location in Devon, Catrin begins to come into her own and earn the respect of her peers. She’s the only crewperson that Ambrose Hilliard (Nighy), a past-his-prime yet nonetheless skilled actor, will talk to.

Based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans, the film pops with witty banter and flows with lovely period detail. The characters are uniformly textured and the performances nuanced. Nighy is perfectly cast in his endearingly withering role, and Jeremy Irons (The Man In The Iron Mask) turns up for a cameo.

It is, however, Arterton’s show. She brings subtlety, intelligence, and a range of beautifully gauged emotions to Catrin, whose path to self-renewal is an inspiring example of a talented woman forging her place in the world.

Their Finest is screening on Sept. 28 at the Landmark Theatre in Penticton.

Kitchen Stove series tickets (four movies) are $38 for art gallery members and students. They are $44 for non-members. Pre-purchased single tickets are $13 and a limited amount of tickets are available.

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