Friday, July 21, 2017

Dunkirk - Review

There are quite a few modern directors that make up the conversation of best working director in Hollywood, but few have the near perfect track record of Christopher Nolan. While he does have a few minor missteps along the way, seeing this director take on World War II is a can’t miss in the cinema. And truth be told, Nolan and crew do not disappoint in any way.

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

Dunkirk is an unconventional war film. The story is non-linear in its execution but it works wonders to elevate the goals of the film as a whole. Very little narrative thread or connective tissues allows the audience to piece the film together as it comes. Each separate story (there are three in total) takes place over various lengths of time and highlights different aspects of this military evacuation and plays with the audience’s perspective.

One thing Dunkirk doesn’t do is spend time on character development. The film jumps right into the action from the get-go and insists on not introducing characters in a normal manner. The main characters feel like proxies for the other soldiers around them and it gets to the point where they’re dirty or terrified, making it deliberately difficult to tell them apart. An ensemble cast shines here, despite not having much to their characters, and there isn’t a weak link on the board. 

In a way, Dunkirk is a more intimate affair than most war films. The spectacle is still there but the level of fear and tension present makes the film something unique in it’s presentation. It doesn’t lean on brutality like some films may and instead tells a story of survival. The production design is off the charts fantastic, from the largest ship to the smallest weapon, each piece feels real. The cinematography, from Hoyte van Hoytema, highlights the scope of it all but doesn’t forget the small moments either. All of these elements are tied together by a score from Hans Zimmer that promotes this sense of fear and uneasiness throughout the entire picture.

Overall, Dunkirk is an uneasy experience that’s exceptionally well crafted by talented filmmakers that all coalesces into a truly masterclass piece of cinema. The actors are perfectly cast, the visuals are spectacular, and the entire atmosphere of the film is tremendous. Christopher Nolan doesn’t reinvent the war film, but he does put together a truly unique, mesmerizing, and tension-filled film that’s among the best the director has to offer.  

So what did you think of Dunkirk? Have you seen it? Are you interested in seeing it? Share, subscribe, comment below, and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight.

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