The Finest Hours

Mayday: Simon Walton gets That Sinking Feeling…

If there’s one thing cinematographers love, it’s a shot that opens out into a fantastical reveal.  Something intimate and possibly threatening, opening into something colossal and most definitely threatening.

Think Matrix and Keanu Reaves looking peely wally and all covered in gooey slime widening into vast fields of human battery incubators; A Matter of Life and Death with David Niven ascending the never ending stairway; or the end of OK Go’s I Won’t Let You Down video (just YouTube it, and pretend you’re hip for ever more).

So, to The Finest Hours, a film built around one great, colossal reveal after another, and probably the embodiment of the ultimate I Won’t Let You Down.

Early Fifties Massachusetts, cold winters, cars that time forgot, and big, big, big storms.   Ships in distress, love on the rocks, repressed emotions on the ebb and flow tides, and lots of “it’s suicide in conditions like this.”  One can’t remember if that refers to the weather or the love interest between probably doomed lifeboat captain Chris Pine who is better known as the improbably prepubescent Captain Kirk, and Holliday Grainger, who is even more improbably good as a New England hometown girl, given that she was born in Didsbury, Manchester, almost four decades after this movie is set.

You just know that when Chris Pine’s baby blue eyes open wide enough to pop out of his impossibly boyish head, that the next shot is going to be something resembling the north face of the Eiger, rendered in water, and coming towards you at a speed that would have any self-respecting supercilious traffic cop uttering “It’s a limit, sir, not a target.”

Playing the part of that sanctimonious authority figure – Eric Bana as the lifeboat station admiral (or whatever they call them) who has the added spice of ‘not being from around here’.  No, he isn’t – he’s Australian and all mild mannered until he goes Mad Max on Grainger for having the temerity to bring an extra X chromosome into his station.

It’s probable that you should suspend belief for most of the 117 minutes running time, but it probably won’t give much away to say that, in this ‘based on true events’ all-American hero story except for the Brits and Aussies in the cast, everyone lives happily ever after.  Mostly.

It’s a bit of a weepy.  Given though that everyone spends the entire production wetter than Keanu Reaves in his birthing pod, nobody will notice if you spring a leak.  Oops – better call the coastguard.

The Finest Hours, directed by Craig Gillespie, UK Cert 12A.  On general release 19 Feb 2016



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