Christopher Nolan takes on the biggest evacuation from foreign soil of an Army. The British and French forces have been pushed back to the coast and over 400,000 men are stuck waiting for ships that are being bombarded by German fighter planes. The German Army is surrounding the beach and the British and French soldiers have no way off. We follow three different timelines which focus on a week for the beach bound Soldiers, a day for the pleasure boat that is crossing the sea to offer help, and an hour for the Spitfires which are flying with limited fuel to try help fight off the fighters that are attacking the retreating army.
Christopher Nolan is THAT Director and Writer for me. It’s not because, which most people think, of the Dark Knight Trilogy, it’s because of films like Insomnia, The Prestige, and Inception. The way that he structures the story makes you feel off straight from the start of each film, and that may not seem like a good thing for most people, but I watch a lot of films. The majority of the films I review are a three out of five at best, with lazy storytelling and lacklustre construction. I can’t say that about Mr. Nolan.
Dunkirk is him at his best, he takes what could have been just another World War 2 movie and turns it into one of the best films of the year. The use of the three timelines and how he manages to mix them together through the running time is just mind-boggling. The stories intertwine at various points and you have to, and I mean HAVE TO, pay attention as you’ll miss some of the connections.
The script is bare bones, in that there is very little. There is a moment at the start which clarifies the story that is about to be told, and then you are in the film. The eerie quiet of the first few minutes is all the break you are going to get from the tension. You care about the characters not because of how they act or their words, it’s all about caring for characters because they have to convey the desperation that each of the soldiers must have felt. You feel the overwhelming sense that they have lost hope. When it gets to the Spitfire Pilots you have a different feeling from the beach story, they know that this three plane support of the beach is not enough but they are going to give everything that they have to make sure they do what they can. On the boat the young lads and the boat’s owner feel that they can only sail the boat to Dunkirk as their way of helping, steadfast and brave, but not knowing that they are brave.
Performance wise Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, and Barry Keoghan lead the rest of the performers and I don’t think that there is one cast member who does not give everything that they have. But I also know that you want to know about Harry Styles, and he doesn’t have a lot to do, but for his first major film he does okay. He’s not in the film that much so don’t go to this thinking it’s just him, he has a small part. I won’t be shocked if this film, which uses little CGI effects, wins a lot of the technical Oscars next year, and the score which adds to the story which every good score should. It’s the perfect mix of story and technical mastery that brings this to the five out of fives.
With little dialogue to fall back on Dunkirk leans heavily on the recreation of the events and the tension. It did not fail to have me addicted to the story for the whole of the running time. The Rylance story on the boat is the one that had me really hooked, and when you learn of his motivation you start to get the feels. Nolan has given us another faultless film, you have to pay attention to the movie though, leave the phone at home. This has to be high on my films of the year.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard & More