Tuesday, 1 March 2016


Softly does it! Craig Gillespie's gentle, sensitive take on a small-scale disaster movie produces an odd blend: old-fashioned character drama meets tense set-piece-strewn thriller. Set in the 1950s, The Finest Hours attempts to recreate the style and tone of films of that era, rather than simply recreating the time period. It's in this regard that its blend of genres comes quite neatly together - it's a high-stakes drama and a low-key thriller by design, and thus aligns nicely with the type of film it emulates. Old-fashioned is the key term, and it's this virtue that carries The Finest Hours; there's a sense of aesthetic purity to Gillespie's stately mise-en-scene, articulated too in Carter Burwell's score, that communicates the simple, earnest emotions of a simpler, more earnest time with ease and effectiveness. The Finest Hours is patient, affable filmmaking, but in offending no-one, does it particularly appeal to anyone? There's enough questionable cargo here to sink the whole ship were it in the wrong hands - it's as cliched as it is collected, as hoary as it is honourable. And, in its deference to a bygone style of filmmaking, there's very little that's actually new or exciting about The Finest Hours, a deficiency that's potentially disastrous for a disaster movie. Good, then, that Craig Gillespie's hands are not the wrong ones, and they steer this ship softly to safety, keeping it relatively safe all along, alas. Its greatest achievement is that it survives at all, and it's a consistently admirable achievement throughout.