Dunkirk – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Dunkirk – 4.5/5 – Nolan is a name that when you hear it, you think of amazing pieces of work.  He has done many great films (Inception, The Dark Knight), that have wowed audience through the years.  With his growing catalog, it was only a matter of a time before he branched out further and took on another challenge.  With Dunkirk, he shows us what a true artist can do with their craft.  From set pieces, storytelling and the characters, Dunkirk is a war epic on a whole different scale.  Even with a straight forward approach, Nolan proves once again why he is one of the great directors of our time.

Premise:  Allied soldiers in WWII must survive the beaches of Dunkirk, and find a way to escape back home.

This film has a big cast, which you can refer to the IMDb page.  The acting is superb across the board.  With an aspect of recreating a WWII ‘event’ where multiple characters are in constant interaction; the acting is deeply woven within the story.  Nolan tackles this with a straight forward approach.  With this technique, he drops you into the action as you live vicariously through the characters.  Through certain individuals, we see ‘first hand’ the war like experience.  In most instances, this would have hindered the film from the beginning.  Based on the type of film (war genre) and the ensemble cast, there is no need for big character development, backstories or grand detail.  This approach allows you to journey without compromising the story.  Through certain individuals, you see how they survived the onslaught through the air (Tom Hardy), at sea (Mark Rylance) and on the beach (Fionn Whitehead).  The constant anguish and peril brought though quick interactions, simple conversations and innate responses helps compliment the veracity of their situation.  That raw vigor allows for an honest reflection of this challenging moment in WWII.  This is a testament to all the actors involved, side and main characters.

On the surface, the script comes across like another war film.  At the heart of the storytelling, you see this is a masterpiece of filming.  With a quick prologue to explain the ‘true events’ (Allied soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, France) you are thrust into the action without any elusive, slick or ambiguous feeling.  The actuality of the situation presents a fragile dance, showing brevity that is atmospheric in its aesthetics.  The straight forward narrative pumps the emotional fervor, seeing how survival boils down to the constant motion of the ‘race against the clock’ mantra.  What Nolan does is take the basic outline of a traditional war film, breaks it up and gives an experience built through the eyes of three perspectives.  With the directive moving parallel through soldiers on land, in the air and at sea, you see the direness affecting characters differently.  Some see it as a matter of helping you ‘fellow man’, but there is also a fear that broods over their psyche.  That push and pull brings fragments of blindness, hollow and self-preservation.  This provokes layers of understanding that it’s you or anyone that could face death at any time.  Through each scene, you are gripped with intensity through the ominous detail of the area, simple human interactions or unpredictability that happens during war.  That balancing of indifference brings to light how everyone is being pushed to the brink of madness.  Through the methodical pacing, each scene is given wide and focal appeal.  That mixing of tone moves all the elements precisely together to create that genuine approach.  This allows for the audiences to see that deep and high tension, where human reaction is unrelenting in a claustrophobic like atmosphere.  While all of this is going on, you are constantly put on edge by the unknown.  You never known when the Germans will attack, which adds to that gripping of ‘being there’ yourself.  That onlook gives that pure escapism, being completely engrossed in the ‘true event’ story.  Showing purpose to the cinematic aspect, you see how simplistic storytelling can override any bombastic nature of a blockbuster.  This is a film that captures the essence of basic survival of war.  Once the three segments make it to the ultimate climax, you are left with a sense of awe and excitement.  You garner an attachment to the emotional value of the story, giving you a chance to see what it was like for soldiers to survive the beaches of Dunkirk during WWII.

The cinematography is simply breathtaking.  Nolan has an eye on authentic recreation in his films.  By providing actual locales, vehicles, weaponry and attire, he provides the audience a vividness beyond the falseness of CGI.  The delicate detail to each segment (air, land and sea) gives a contrast that reveals purity of the event.  As the characters react to ships being torpedoed, dogfights in the air and bombs being dropped on the beach, that relativity provokes the mind to endearment.  The score is another wonderful part of the film.  From the constant pacing of the orchestra, the slight hints of danger with the ‘ticking’ sounds and the resounding music that parallel the roaring of planes or bombs crashing, you feel the power of the world around these soldiers.  Through subtlety, the music props the experience while blending in as if it is its own character.

Dunkirk is one Nolan’s best works to date.  Watching the simplicity in linear direction push the limits of your mind is a marvel of an achievement.  From the character, set pieces to the precision in the art of filmmaking, you will not be disappointed.  If you are a fan of Nolan, war films or like good films, this is one for you.  It is worth the full price, and a definite film to see on IMAX.

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