“The Finest Hours” Review

Owen Carberry '18, Staff Writer

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The Finest Hours, directed by Craig Gillespie, tells the true story of a daring Coast Guard rescue of an oil tanker that has split in half during a blizzard in 1952. Chris Pine stars as Bernie Webber, an average, quiet, obedient member of the Coast Guard looking to begin a new chapter of life with his fiancé. Instead, he ends up leading the mission to find the remaining half of the oil tanker, which many consider to be suicide with the incredibly stormy conditions.

The narrative is told from two other points of view. The first follows the crew aboard the SS Pendleton oil tanker, as they are forced to take extreme measures to keep what’s left of their ship afloat. Engineer Ray Sybert, played by Casey Affleck, advocates for the crew to stick together after tensions rise among some of the men. Back on shore in Chatham, the story follows Bernie’s fiancé, Miriam, as wells as the rest of the town’s citizens, as they wait the storm out and track Bernie’s progress on the radio. Overall, the film’s cinematography is very well executed. The scenes at sea are particularly exhilarating and absorbing. Filmed in the true Chatham location, the scenes in the town function as a realistic and accurate portrayal of Cape Cod during the 1950s. The characters are believable and very well developed.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the entire film is the parallel between the characters of Bernie and Sybert. Both are outcasts in their respective situations, and are not given any respect. After Bernie failed on a previous rescue to save some fishermen stranded at sea, nobody thinks he is capable of leading a rescue mission of this scale. On the tanker, Ray Sybert’s risky plan to try and save the ship is doubted most of the crew, who are fixed on taking the lifeboats. In both scenarios, however, each emerges as a leader who is able to rally those around them and show bravery in seemingly hopeless situations.

The film could have done without the prolonged introduction to Bernie and Miriam’s relationship. However, that is only a minor problem and does not negatively impact the film as a whole. The film does a magnificent job telling the tale of one of the most heroic acts in Coast Guard history. If you like movies about the underdog, or are interested in the Coast Guard, make plans to see The Finest Hours.

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“The Finest Hours” Review