LONDON-The new film by Lone Scherfig (An Education) is a lively comedy-drama about a group of filmmakers who contributed to the war effort during the Blitz by making movies.

Their Finest is based on the Lissa Evans novel, and stars Gemma Arterton, who loved the fact that the story is set at a time when “women were called to work” while the men were off fighting. She also liked that Scherfig allowed the characters to be well rounded, even funny. “There’s broad strokes in this film,” Arterton says. “But everything’s done with such detail that it makes it not-brash. That’s down to Lone’s attention to detail. Little tiny things that you might not even catch, really, but that she sees and thinks about.”

And then there was the film within a film storyline, especially one set in the 1940s. “I hadn’t made a film set in that period before,” Arterton says, “which was a really amazing period for so many reasons, with so much going on and so much change. Film, or any art form, is very important in desperate times. In any time! It’s opening up people’s minds or giving them inspiration or hope. It will be interesting to see what happens now in the film industry with the films that come out of America!”

Arterton also felt challenged by playing her character, Catrin. “I loved her because she’s actually quite a different role for me,” she says. “Usually, I think women in films are a little bit more front-footed, but I think she’s a little more back-footed, and I liked that.”

Finding new kinds of roles is important for the actress. “When I was making bigger blockbusters, I felt like my intelligence was thwarted,” she says. “I couldn’t express myself properly. I was not doing the right things for me. I was saying yes for the wrong reasons. It’s taken a few years for me to turn things around and now I’ve got films coming out that I’m really proud of.”