Dunkirk – Review

Fionn Whitehead as Tommy in Dunkirk – Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Dunkirk stands as a stark replication of the real life events that transpired, the men who lost their lives, and the desperate reach towards home. Expect a film that respects and honor’s the events that took place while showcasing the harsh realities of war.

In this film we follow the journey of multiple young men as they attempt to do one thing; get home alive.

This film will grab you the instant it begins and will not stop with its heart wrenching tension until the film comes to a close; it won’t hold your hand throughout, you are thrown in alone, unaware, and forced to traverse the chaos of the land, air, and seas. War is chaos, and this depiction of the real life events is no exception – the film will make it adamantly clear that the military was in a complete disarray, everybody had lost the concept of guaranteed safety and many had resigned themselves to certain death, not many words are spoken in this film and most of the storytelling is done visually.

Now with a film that is dead set on creating a strikingly realistic depiction of war, the result of this is characters that we understand, but don’t truly know. Do not expect fully realized characters, the point of this film was to depict the confusion of war, in real life, there is no plot armor or lead characters to guide you, and there is no defacto lead character. All the performances were fantastic with Mark Rylance, Fionn Whitehead, and Harry Styles as the standout roles in this film, I definitely want to see Styles perform again to see how his range is, and hope to see him in the future.

This film was told in three main perspectives in a non-linear fashion, it handles its storytelling remarkably well for a war film, but not surprising given Nolan’s experience in this form of storytelling. It’s a short film and it feels short, but that doesn’t detract from the experience, it was frankly the perfect length as it never feels like there’s a moment that’s dragging.

Now this is a film that MUST be viewed in IMAX if possible, or just the biggest screen you can get your hands on – viewing this film in IMAX is ideal, everything from the opening shot to the smaller moments are indescribable. The production design and special effects were jaw dropping, from the real and practical planes, to the boats and locations, everything felt real because most of it simply was. The sound design is impeccable with realistic tension building plane engines roaring and approaching from the sky to the deafening gun sounds that meld tensely with the riveting score, it all comes together to elevate the tension to new levels each time. Hans Zimmer doesn’t intrude too much, he adds a perfect level of tension and a distinct sense of time ticking towards something, we can really feel moments build through the use of this soundtrack.

Nolan reminds us that he is only getting started, words can’t describe how this film truly feels or looks, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. Visceral, raw, and relentlessly realistic in every facet of its makeup; Dunkirk is pure, undiluted film-making from a masterclass director.

9.6/10

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