Dunkirk: Film Review

I am such a fan of Christopher Nolan films so I always hype them up so much. This was my downfall with Interstellar and now it is again with Dunkirk. I had raised my expectations so high that it would be impossible for the film to reach them so I felt a bit let down because the film was very, very good but not the spectacular triumph I wanted it to be.

The film largely revolves around Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a soldier who has arrived on Dunkirk beach during the famous evacuation of World War II, and his relentless attempts to make it back home with his fellow soldiers Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) and Alex (Harry Styles). It also follows British pilots Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) trying to destroy enemy planes off the coast and civilian boat owner Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) heading to Dunkirk to help.

Nolan does a great job of building the atmosphere of Dunkirk and how difficult it was to escape. It is intense, there are boats and people being blown up left right and centre and bodies everywhere and the scene is absolutely chaotic, messy and dirty. Every boat that comes in to rescue gets destroyed and the boys have to keep going to get back home. I’m surprised I wasn’t moved by this, considering how easily I cry at movies, especially ones based on real-life events. I think that’s because none of the characters are fleshed out, you get no back stories, so you don’t really care for anyone in particular.

The film also jumps around with the timeline in odd ways that are jarring. At first I thought I wasn’t paying attention but then I realised that no, we just have Cillian Murphy in two different places and times in consecutive scenes. Nolan loves to play around with time in his movies and I guess he couldn’t resist again. It certainly made things more interesting and less straight forward but it was confusing at times.

However, it is visually stunning, with certain shots actually making me think ‘wow’, and the sound design is sensational – there isn’t much dialogue (relatively speaking) and this is relied upon to keep the tension and momentum going and it doesn’t let up. All the actors do a great job but I was most impressed with Kenneth Branagh, who gave me the most feels, Murphy, who portrayed the most haunting psychological effects of Dunkirk, and Styles, who I thought would be rubbish. He was a bit distracting and I never fully bought his character but I was blown away with his acting. So proud!

Nolan has done a fantastic job depicting the horrific events of Dunkirk. It is a very powerful and atmospheric film and very different to Nolan’s other movies. People have called it a masterpiece or a cert for an Oscar and while it is very good, I wouldn’t go that far.

In cinemas Friday 21st July 

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