North & South - - Photo Essay -

Com­edy/ drama ( M)

The set­ting: Lon­don, 1940, dur­ing the Blitz. The scene: The Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion. The of­fer: “Min­istry wages start at £3 10s; ob­vi­ously we can’t pay you as much as the chaps, so shall we say two pounds a week?” So be­gins Ca­trin Cole’s ca­reer as an un­cred­ited screen­writer for a morale­boost­ing pro­pa­ganda film based (some­what loosely) on the dar­ing deeds of twin sis­ters who steal their fa­ther’s boat to help res­cue Bri­tish sol­diers stranded at Dunkirk. Cole’s job is to write the “slop”: the women’s di­a­logue. This is frothy, feel-good fem­i­nism lite, and you’ll be ei­ther ir­ri­tated or charmed by the plucky hero­ine with her lilt­ing Welsh ac­cent and Bill Nighy’s hammy por­trayal of a vain screen idol well past his use-by date. But stick with it to the end and there’s just enough salt in the syrup to avoid a cloy­ingly sweet af­ter­taste. JOANNA WANE

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