In taking on his first non-fiction project, acclaimed director, Christopher Nolan, takes viewers on a remarkable journey of courage and survival in the visually spectacular and emotionally charged war-thriller, Dunkirk. Delivering what definitely proves to be his most ambitious projects to date, Nolan’s astute cinematic eye and immaculate attention to detail is evident throughout and while there is plenty to admire about the talented cast, it’s Nolan who deserves the highest praise.
Telling the story of WWII’s evacuation of Dunkirk, the story takes place between May 26th and June 4th, 1940 and follows Allied soldiers as they find themselves surrounded by German forces on all sides on the beaches of Dunkirk, France. The evacuation mission – aka Operation Dynamo – is quickly applied across all spaces – air, land and sea – and we are quickly introduced to the ground British Army privates, Tommy (Whitehead) and Alex (Styles), who are battling their way through and doing everything they can to get off the beach.
Told from three different perspectives, Nolan keeps Dunkirk surprisingly bloodless; this is no Saving Private Ryan, although inspiration is evident throughout its opening act. But this is not to say that the experience of watching these men fighting for survival is any less intense; Nolan puts you right into the heart of the action, ensuring that you, as the viewer, are partaking in the struggle along with everyone else on screen, rarely ever allowing you a chance to catch your breath along the way.
The cinematography of Hoyte Van Hoytema – who worked with Nolan on Inception – is sublime, which is key, as Nolan employs very little dialogue and employs minimalist and non-linear approaches. Playing with the timelines left, right and centre, the three narrative threads often overlap each other while unfolding over a different amounts of time; what could have turned into a hollow filmic gimmick is handled in way that renders it valuable to the overall story.
Regardless of the lack of character development – there simply isn’t time – the performances are impressive, too. Oscar-winner Mark Rylance is a standout, as are newcomers, Fionn Whitehead and One-Direction’s Harry Styles – he can act! – while Tom Hardy, hidden behind a pilot’s mask, proves why he is one of the most sought out actors working today.
Driven by an unnerving and emotionally powerful Hans
Zimmer score, Dunkirk is one big ticking bomb ready to explode; loud, intense and almost disturbingly immersive, this is a showcase of true craftsmanship which only adds to Nolan’s already remarkable directorial achievements.
Marija Djurovic, Cairo360