In the early 1950’s, a low-ranking crewman of the Coast Guard is sent out into a treacherous storm to rescue a stranded tanker. Bernie Webber is accompanied by a team of volunteers, and he leaves behind Miriam, the woman he hopes to marry. The treachery of the sea becomes even worse when his compass fails, and although the hopes of the townspeople rest on him, some are still upset that he was unable to rescue a local sailor in a previous storm. Miriam enters the Coast Guard headquarters to plea for the commander to call back Bernie’s boat, but he refuses, and Miriam must wait with the rest of the townspeople to see whether Bernie succeeds – and whether he survives.
The Adoption Connection
There isn’t really an adoption connection in The Finest Hours. Some characters struggle with the loss of a loved one, and that emotion might be familiar to audiences touched by adoption.
Bernie and his team rise above others’ expectations of them – and above a very scary situation – to bravely save others. There’s a true sense of victory and accomplishment conveyed by the film, and viewers are brought along to experience the triumph that Bernie and his team feel.
One character blames Bernie for a loss that he’s experienced. Bernie was unable to rescue the man’s relative. Another family member encourages him not to keep blaming Bernie. In situations of painful loss (which for some people includes adoption), we sometimes try to find a place to lay blame, channeling our grief into anger, which doesn’t generally lead to healing. In this film, one character encourages another to move away from blame (and from there, hopefully to healing.)
One authority figure comes across as particularly insensitive, and some scenes of peril will make this unsuitable for the youngest viewers, but otherwise there aren’t many concerns in this one.
I found The Finest Hours to be one of the most engrossing films I’ve seen in recent years. It kept my attention and interest the whole way through. While it’s not a good choice for kids, it does seem to be a good choice for viewers ages 12 and up and adults, so long as they won’t be traumatized by scenes of man-versus-nature peril.
Questions for Discussion
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Who besides Bernie had to be brave in this movie?
Do you think Bernie was scared even while he was doing a brave thing? How do those two feelings – bravery and fear – coexist?