“Dunkirk” the newest film from “Inception”, “Interstellar” and “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan the man who’s brought us puzzling, dramatic and overwhelming stories of valor and adventure. “Dunkirk” is likely Nolan’s easiest film thus far. At an hour and 46 minutes it’s definitely one of his shortest.
Nolan’s take on the 1940 WWII battle is not your typical war movie. With three storylines crossing streams– several times – alternating in time – over a one week period. It really shows his audience a sense for the confusion of events, which all the players in this real-life drama were experiencing.
The first plotline involves British soldiers forced by German troops onto France’s Dunkirk beach. They’re surrounded and cut off. A desperate Commander Bolton (played by Kenneth Branagh) says he can almost see home from where he stands, but without a miracle, there’s no way of getting there. The second is the civilian story. Mark Rylance is excellent as a father and amateur sailor. He’s one of hundreds who responded to the request by the British government, to sail across the English Channel, and into the war, to rescue the soldiers stuck on the beach. He’s joined by his son and a family friend.
And the third involves a pair of pilots (the main one played by Tom Hardy) whose tasked to take down the enemy planes before they can bomb what’s left of the British fleet and the soldiers awaiting rescue. Three stories – by land, by sea and by air, “Dunkirk” is almost entirely a story of heroism, bringing to light the risks, rewards, failure, and sacrifice that often come with it.
Nolan’s choice to never show the face of the enemy is also new and different take on the war genre. While is usual technique is more discreet here, we do get some rather unique camera angles, particularly during the aerial sequences. This isn’t a very intense or graphic war film. There are some thrilling moments of combat and suspense, but “Dunkirk” is actually more of a character study, a slow burn with several scenes lingering with nothing happening and very little to no dialogue.
Even with a Hans Zimmer score, “Dunkirk” at times feels a little too quiet, briefly allowing your mind to wander with the waves of the sea. Thankfully the believable ensemble, which also includes Cillian Murphy and, yes, popstar Harry Styles, always brings you back to the moment. All that said I think Nolan met his intentions of honoring those who came to the event during this crucial, yet relatively unfamiliar chapter of World War II and showing that everyone can play a part when the cause is just.
I don’t doubt this one will be a contender for some sort of award, it’s not my favorite of Nolan’s work but it’s definitely one to watch. Kind of reminds me in part of “The Finest Hours”.
Rating Rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language
I personally think this could have made a PG rating apart from a single F bomb and mild violence
I give it an B+