Composed By: Rachel Portman
Songs By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the British war dramedy, Their Finest, Gemma Arterton is Catrin Cole, a woman who is hired as a “slop” scriptwriter by the British Ministry of Information in 1940, hoping a woman’s touch would be helpful for their morale-boosting propaganda films. She is soon noticed by a dashing movie producer (Sam Claflin), much to the chagrin of her husband (Jack Huston). With bombs dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and the rest of the crew work at a furious pace to create a movie that will touch the hearts of a nation.
The musical score of Their Finest was created by British composer Rachel Portman, the first female composer to win an Academy Award with her score for Emma. She also became the first female composer to win a Primetime Emmy Award for her work on Bessie. Portman has written over one hundred musical scores for film, television and theatre, including The Cider House Rules, Benny and Joon, The Duchess, The Lake House, Mona Lisa Smile, Chocolat, Belle, A Dog's Purpose and more.
For Their Finest, Rachel Portman used an orchestral sound. The first track, Catrin Goes to The Ministry, features the main character’s theme, an orchestral track dominated by flutes and strings. The theme’s music represents the exuberance of youth and naiveté and can be glimpsed in bits and pieces throughout the soundtrack. According to Rachel Portman, “Their Finest is set in 1940s London during the Blitz. The music is a mixture of orchestral wistful, thematic, at times up tempo underscore with themes for Catrin, the protagonist, and for the war. One of the main features of the score is the film score for the film within the film, ‘The Nancy Starling.’ I had to create a film score of the period, which ended up being very enjoyable to write.” There are incredible dramatic and somewhat sad moments for that movie within a movie featured in Tracks 6 and 7, Nancy Starling Parts 1 and 2.
In addition to the score, Their Finest Soundtrack features songs form the period – They Can't Black Out the Moon by Stephanie Hyam and Claudia Jessie and Red Sails in the Sunset by Charlie Kunz, His Piano & The Casani Club Orchestra. The final track, Will You Go, Lassie, is performed by actor Bill Nighy with Rachel Portman on the piano (it sounds like the rest of the cast join in at the end, but they aren’t credited on the album).
There are highs and lows in the soundtrack of Their Finest, as would befit a movie taking place in the midst of war. The score reflects the emotions of the film as our main character dodges actual air raids while attempting to film a war drama to boost morale. There are some romantic sounding moments in here as well and they are done in that 1940s orchestral style that make them a bit larger than life. Overall, the Their Finest Soundtrack was quite an enjoyable listen…and I have listened to it at least three times already.