Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Finest Hours (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Finest Hours

In the tradition of "The Perfect Storm" and "Titanic", Craig Gillespie's "The Finest Hours" depicts the most famous Coast Guard boat rescue in history. In 1952, oil tanker The SS Pendleton is caught in a severe winter storm.

Actor Chris Pine is crewman Bernie Webber dispatched to the tempest in the hopes of finding any sign of the Pendleton. Webber is not a born hero; he simply attempts what is right. Holliday Grainger plays Miriam, Bernie's idealistic fiancee and she is very fetching, making a kind of Lois Lane to Chris Pine's work-a-day Superman role.

Casey Affleck appears as Captain Sybert, head of the unlucky Pendleton. He is a quiet and reserved man but he knows his stuff. The film has echoes of "It's A Wonderful Life" in its idyllic depiction of a small Massachusetts town but most closely resembles James Cameron's "Titanic" with its plucky and adventurous romance pitted against a rabid and almost supernatural danger. The storm is an animalistic vortex in which a congenial shore community is almost swallowed whole. Bernie and Miriam are a Cape Cod version of Jack and Rose who try to love against the ravages of an impartial Nature.

Although the film is pure Hollywood in the tone of Spielberg, it is perfect in its creation of a time, when cars were considered boats and boats were cars, when America seemed, at least on the surface, romantic and right.

The film makes an engaging pop art fever dream of danger and euphoria, portraying a world where the act of doing good doesn't come from outside forces, but it is a systemic pulse within every being. Bernie and Meriam exist on a telepathic romantic plane; he on a boat and she in a Packard galleon, both are united in trying to aid others.

While some of the dialogue is macho and conventional along with a heap of melodrama, the allure of Meriam and Bernie pulls one into a whirl of hopeful positivity as predictable as it is. Chris Pine is perfect as a kind of nautical Captain Kirk, the underdog with charisma and screen presence. The 3D effects too are colorful and wellplaced, offering surprise without any overdone or distracting frills.

For those that like films of the underdog or Saturday Matinee category with a comforting nostalgia, "The Finest Hours" will undoubtably satisfy with tissues for emotional ballast.

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