I do love a film based on a true story. However, people can get caught up on little details and easily frustrate themselves about accuracy. Sometimes this is appropriate but for me if the film captures the essence of the story I’m all for it. I love that through film we get to hear and see stories that we’d otherwise never know. ‘The Finest Hours’ is one of these films which is based on a true story, it stars Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. Released in the same week as Affleck’s disappointing heist movie ‘Triple 9’ could he redeem himself in just a matter of days?
The film charts a coastguard rescue attempt of the crew of the SS Pendleton in 1952. At first the film focuses on a few characters and chooses to develop them, this doesn’t set the tone well. With characters fearing the ocean and others clearly viewed as the bumbling fool it all seemed a bit cliched. When the events shifted to the other characters in the film and threw them straight into the action with hardly any introduction I was left a little puzzled as to why the writers had decided on this. However, as the film progressed this actually bothered me less and less and the cliched nature of the characters wasn’t actually an issue at all. Surprisingly the lack of knowledge about certain characters was actually sort of refreshing, you don’t route for them because you care about them, their past or what they have to live for but just because they’re human and you want to see them survive! The film is pretty powerful in parts and you’ll be drawn into the drama in certain moments quicker than the currents that our characters are facing. With a great level of emotion present in these scenes you’ll really begin to wonder if that cliched character development or lack of it at all in some cases was an issue at all.
The whole cast are good here, Chris Pine and Casey Affleck have the most to do and they perform well in their roles. I was convinced by everyone else too but as the nature of the story shows this is a real team effort. It’s good too that the story never feels too drawn out, sometimes films that focus on a rescue or survival can become tedious. This was never the case with ‘The Finest Hours’ as it avoids becoming monotonous whilst still being long enough to give you a sense of the characters ordeals. What certainly helped this was a number of thrilling scenes present in the film, these more action heavy moments really were captivating. They are set up in such a way to really bring the audience alongside the characters but what transpired the most was the sheer furiosity of the ocean. I loved that the power and vastness of this great force of nature was showcased so effectively in these moments. Thankfully the CGI in these moments and on the whole was pretty good too. I was worried as at the end of last year ‘In The Heart of Sea’ was very inconsistent in this regard and from the few clips I’d seen I thought this film may have ended up the same but much to my joy here it was quite good.
So what I thought was going to be a cringey, bad-looking disaster flick actually turned out to be a really enjoyable account of a powerful true story. With good performances throughout, some gripping action, emotive drama and a wonderful showcase of the power of the deep blue sea ‘The Finest Hours’ was quite a pleasant surprise. I can see myself revisiting this movie in the near future and I’m so glad that as a result of seeing the movie I’ve been made aware of the story it’s based on, one of the many reasons I love film.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite film set at sea?
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