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Jakarta Post

'€˜THE FINEST HOURS'€™ Monotonous yet enjoyable

  • Sammi Taylor

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, February 6, 2016   /  04:01 pm

Seasickness guaranteed: brilliant CGI storms, not so brilliant accents.

The Finest Hours is based on a true story, which forgives it somewhat for presenting a plot that we'€™ve seen too many times before '€” bad weather, rough seas, a sinking ship and a clichéd love story.

But despite the monotony of the story, director Craig Gillespie manages to make most of the film'€™s 117-minute run time enjoyable. A departure from Gillespie'€™s previous works (comedy-drama Lars and the Real Girl and horror remake Fright Night), The Finest Hours is just fine '€” nothing more, nothing less.

The Finest Hours centers around a daring sea rescue mission accomplished by the US Coast Guard in 1952 off Chatham, Massachusetts. We follow Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) as he leads a team of young, inexperienced crewmen to rescue the surviving sailors aboard the SS Pendleton, an oil tanker broken in half by a dangerous storm and sinking quickly, led by engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck). Bernie leaves his new fiancée Miriam (Holliday Grainger) on shore, as the townspeople of Chatham worry their men have been sent on a suicide mission.

Perhaps the film'€™s biggest asset, the CGI storm is convincing and chilling and ensures that your stomach flips and drops every time a boat is dragged under, or a crew member is swept out to sea. The rain hitting the lens of the camera adds an immersive touch to the almost unbelievable 10-meter waves and each and every frame seems to be hued in a shade of blue '€”ethereal and misty for scenes on land and deep and murky on the seas.

Seeing the film in 3D guarantees an overwhelming sense of sea sickness, mostly because of the visual and audio intensity '€”crashing, jolting, pounding waves '€” and partly because of the borderline awful New England accents. Eric Bana'€™s southern drawl is poked fun at '€” '€œYou laughin'€™ just '€˜cause I talk different?'€ '€” but is no excuse for his failed attempt. Sometimes the sailors'€™ accents are laughable but earnest, a parody of the Boston drawl, and other times they'€™re just too difficult to understand.

The film is an old-fashioned throwback and clings to American pride. Patriotic in every sense of the word, The Finest Hours is an homage to the Golden Generation and takes a nostalgic look at the bravery of the working class of the 1950s. Webber and Sybert are the same side of the same coin '€” nearly identical characters who embody the all-American hero. Their personalities are identical, possessing only the qualities of unexpected bravery and humility, with a dash of shy awkwardness, but their portrayal of the American hero is believable and likable '€” despite Webber'€™s relative mediocrity you'€™re rooting for him in the end, even if his character'€™s depth only goes skin deep. Grainger gives a striking performance as Miriam '€” the headstrong, persistent and bold fiancée. Grainger brings to life a female character we rarely see in Golden Generation era films '€” a determined and smart alternative to the housewife that no doubt existed in 1950s America, but is rarely shown on screen. Grainger'€™s Miriam makes bold, even feminist, choices and sticks to her guns, while oozing old-Hollywood glamour in every scene she'€™s in.

Composer Carter Burwell does a grand job with the film'€™s score, with music that mimics the swirling and soaring sea. However, the editing and lack of continuity does let the film down with choppy cuts and storylines that have loose ends.

The Finest Hours certainly isn'€™t a triumph, but it'€™s pleasant nonetheless and the perfect film if you'€™re looking for a few old-fashioned clichés to sink your teeth into.

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