4 ½ stars

So far, this is my favorite drama at TIFF 2016. A movie featuring screenwriters as lead characters has got to be a tricky thing, right? With all the agonizing they go through about whether the movie they’re in the midst of writing (and re-writing, on the fly) is “good” or not, it would be an irony of laughable proportions if the film itself were poorly written. Thankfully in her first time writing for the big screen, TV screenwriter Gaby Chiappe (EastEnders) nails it.

A World War II drama set in a government film propaganda office in London during the Blitz, the movie has everything you could want in a film. There’s romantic tension as a neglected war artist’s wife (Gemma Artenton) finds herself promoted from secretary to screenwriter, and clashes with the established male scenarist (Sam Claflin). There’s suspense with the ever-looming threat of German bombs. There’s excellent comedy mostly in the hands of Bill Nighy poking fun at his own profession as a pompous elderly actor.

Charged with finding an inspiring story to keep up morale at home, our heroine sets out to investigate a story in the media of plucky twin girls stealing their drunk father’s fishing boat to help rescue soldiers from Dunkirk. There are a number of allusions to the classic wartime film on the same topic Mrs. Miniver. But it is also a bit of a love letter to the creative process. Highly recommended.


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