Film Review: Dunkirk (2017)

2017 in Cinema:

Dunkirk, 2017

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy

 

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s war epic, retelling the events of the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War. The film focuses on three events: The Mole, where evacuation ships are constantly being bombarded; The Sea, where civilian ships are sailing across the sea to fetch the troops; and The Air, where three fighter pilots are trying to fend off enemy planes.

Unusually for a film of this type we are immediately thrust into the action. We have no time to get to know our main characters (characterisation throughout this film is minimal), instead joining immediately into the fire. The whole film centres around the evacuation itself: nothing beforehand, nothing afterwards. This is different for a war film as we are not presented with moments of troop bonding, which is a nice change to see.

Time is a big feature within this film, and it is used beautifully. The mole takes place over one week, the sea over a day and the air over an hour; all interlocking at major points. The musical accompaniment to this film is brilliant, and often throughout a clock’s ticking is heard, speeding up the characters in moments where they’re running for safety. Continuing on with the lack of troop-bonding moments, these three timelines we follow allow for those moments of quiet reflection time to be removed. Jumping from a week’s story to an hour’s and back can delete any unnecessary scenes and this gives the film a constant feel of suspense. At any moment an enemy could fire and kill (and often does), and this lasts from the very first scene to nearly the very last.

This film features brilliant acting (even from Harry Styles, surprisingly) from all, with each coming across as genuine in their portrayal of soldiers afraid and simply wanting to go home, or those suffering from shell-shock. Nobody gives a poor performance which is a credit to the whole team.

Dunkirk is a remarkably different type of film. With great acting and a based-on-true-event plot it’s easy to get sucked into it from the off. The constant ticking of the clock, its visually stunning appearance and moments of suspense throughout keep the film at a constant quick pace, whether we’re following a lengthy week’s period or the fighter pilot’s hour. Definitely a film to check out.

 

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