Film Review: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan once again proves himself the master filmmaker with the astounding Dunkirk. The film is unmissable. 

In 1940, Allied soldiers have been pushed back to Dunkirk by the German army. As British soldiers wait on the beaches to be evacuated, time is running out to get thousands of men to safety…

Christopher Nolan has proved himself adept at working in a number of genres, so there were no major concerns with him tackling the war film. The result of this endeavour is a tense, enthralling movie. It is one that respects the historical reality of its subject, yet does not fail to deliver spectacle. 

Dunkirk does not give the audience even a minute to settle, with tension immediately in the air. This is unrelenting through almost the entire duration of the movie. There is little reprieve, as the film focuses on a number of situations, all entering the thick of the action. The momentum builds in the uneasiest of manners, there is a sense of foreboding that emerges early on.

The film offers a few characters for the audience to get behind; it is clear that survival is the name of the game. There are not the clear heroes and villains we so often see; Nolan is more subtle than this. The film is most nerve wracking, but audiences will not want to miss a second of the film. Dunkirk lays bare the horrors of war, in particular the brutality facing soldiers. Similar to Hacksaw Ridge‘s visceral depiction of the battlefield, Nolan depicts the tension and terror of simply trying to survive. It is a depiction well worthy of acclaim. 

Dunkirk should be seen on IMAX 70mm screens if at all possible, to do the film full justice. Nolan’s direction is masterful; action is portrayed in a highly realistic fashion. He really situates the viewer at the heart of action. The sound design adds immensely to the visual spectacle. Hans Zimmer proves his incredible talent with another powerful score. There is little dialogue in the film. The narrative does not really require much talking when the visuals and sound are so impactful. Performances are good throughout; Fionn Whitehead and Mark Rylance stand out in particular. 

Dunkirk will stay with viewers long after they leave the cinema. It will be fascinating to see what Nolan tackles next. 

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