“We all live or we all die.”
These words, spoken by Chris Pine’s Bernie Webber, are the truest representation of the heroism and survival that exists at the heart of Craig Gillespie’s inspiring film, The Finest Hours.
In 1952, in an extraordinary show of courage and bravery, US Coast Guard Boatswain’s First mate, Bernard “Bernie” Webber (Chris Pine), charts a small crew to rescue the members of the SS Pendleton after its hull was ripped apart, and they became stranded off the coast of Cape Cod.
5. Craig Gillespie – The balance of fury and survival
The Finest Hours is a grand scale film, with thunderous special effects and a massive set comprising thousands of gallons of water. But at the heart of the film is an intimate story of two groups of men, who utilise every simple resource they have to survive in the face of huge odds. It is in this duality that director Craig Gillespie excels, as he pays equal attention between both Bernie’s struggle to get to the SS Pendleton, and the stranded crew themselves.
4. Carter Burwell – Sound of the sea
With such a dangerous mission, intense willpower is needed to overcome it, and this is where the magnificent score from Carter Burwell comes into play. With much of the film’s focus on action, Burwell’s score is used to effectively highlight the dangers that await Bernie and his crew, along with the tension that is placed on the SS Pendleton’s crew. Burwell’s score also helps to illuminate the romance between Bernie and his girlfriend Miriam (Holliday Grainger), and the fear that they share when Bernie heads to sea.
3. Casey Affleck – The Engineer
When everything goes to hell on the SS Pendleton, the remaining crew can only turn to one man, chief engineer Ray Sybert who is portrayed by Casey Affleck in a committed turn. Affleck’s Sybert is a man who has dedicated his life to the engines of big tanker ships, and knows absolutely everything about the Pendleton. It’s not just a job for him, but more of a deep-seated passion and love, which becomes crucial when it comes to helping his men survive. Sybert is the ultimate pragmatist, understanding the hopelessness of the situation, but attacking each problem head on, and buying more time. When the chips are down, you definitely want someone like Sybert in your corner, and Affleck’s performance only makes you feel this man’s courage more deeply.
2. Chris Pine and Holliday Grainger – Lovers in the eye of the storm
While The Finest Hours might boast ferocious visuals and courageous heroics, at its core is a charming relationship between co-leads Chris Pine and Holliday Grainger as Bernie and Miriam. Gillespie plays up this relationship in a throwback to the era of 1940s and early 1950s romantic comedies, and really highlights Pine’s nervousness as Bernie. Grainger perfectly plays off Pine’s nervousness, and is staunch and angry when she learns that the man she loves will be put in danger.
1. Strength of will
At the heart of The Finest Hours is the story of a few brave men who were willing to put their lives on the line so that others could live. No matter what obstacle is thrown at them, whether it’s Bernie’s ability to cross into the open seas from Chatham, Massachusetts (in one of the film’s most thrilling scenes) or Sybert’s ability to keep water from rising into the SS Pendleton’s pump, both crews manage to overcome it. The Finest Hours is an incredibly heroic tale and enjoyable tale, and showcases what absolute resolve can get you through.
Image source: Walt Disney Pictures