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Stars: Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy, Sam Claflin, Jack Huston, Richard E Grant, Henry Goodman, Helen McCrory, Eddie Marsan, Rachael Stirling, Paul Ritter, Jeremy Irons, Jake Lacy
Director: Lone Scherfig
A nice change from what sometimes seems a weekly dose of horror, sci-fi and angst, this character comedy that takes an unexpected sidestep into tragedy in its closing stages sees Arterton, attempting a pretty decent Welsh accent, as Catrin, a girl from the Valleys who we encounter in the London of 1940 with her artist husband (Huston), whose wounded leg from the Spanish Civil War has disqualified him from active service in WW2.
Applying for what she thinks is a secretarial job, Catrin finds herself working as a script girl for a film company whose boss (Goodman) promises minister Irons that 'I will bring you a picture to win the war'.
Catrin has the idea of expanding the story of two sisters who commandeered their father's boat and headed for a rescue mission at Dunkirk (though they never got there) and soon finds herself a fully-fledged (if uncredited) scriptwriter working (away from her husband) on location in Devon, proving herself the equal of fellow scripters Tom (Claflin) and Raymond (Ritter) and even coping with the addition to the cast of an American war hero (Lacy) with only the most tenuous grasp on acting, plus an ageing thespian (Nighy) who hasn't worked in a wee while.
Nighy's character is admittedly a bit of a cliché, but he elegantly milks it for all it's worth, while Arterton is a sturdy heroine who will have you firmly on her side, Claflin fills the bill as the bespectacled writer attracted to the married Catrin, and the settings and atmosphere of the times are recaptured in all-too-real fashion.
The tragic turn of events towards the end is a bit rum, and the idea of a Technicolor film in 1940 Britain even odder, but these are small qualms in a persuasive and engagingly-performed piece of entertainment.
UK 2016. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour (unspecified).
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.
Review date: 15 Apr 2017