Dunkirk

"Essential"

Dunkirk Review


Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one has taken an approach like Christopher Nolan. Not that this is a surprise, since Nolan has made a career of fiercely inventive filmmaking. But this might be his masterpiece: a relatively simple story told with creative verve, relentlessly growing intensity, emotional resonance and the weight of history.

He recounts the events on three timelines. Over the course of a week, young soldier Tommy (rising star Fionn Whitehead) finds himself on the beach at Dunkirk amid 400,000 soldiers hemmed in from behind by the Germans and looking for some way to get across the Channel to England. But every ship he finds is sunk in front of him, or under him, as German pilots drop bombs from the sky. Meanwhile over the course of one day, English yachtsman Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his sons (Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan) head off to do what they can as part of an armada of small civilian boats. And in the sky above over the course of an hour, spitfire pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) engages the Luftwaffe in a series of aerial battles.

Nolan skilfully edits these three time-strands together into a narrative that continually loops back on itself, showing events from different angles. It sometimes feels a bit repetitive, but that's the point, and the result is increasingly resonant as it recounts the events from three internal perspectives. In the focal roles, Whitehead, Rylance and Hardy offer distinct angles on heroism and survival. These are powerfully engaging performances that reveal men merely doing what they can in seemingly impossible situations.

Each strand is beefed up with strong supporting roles, all beautifully played. Tommy teams up with the watchful Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) and aggressive Alex (Harry Styles in an impressive acting debut). Dawson fishes a shell-shocked seaman (Cillian Murphy) from the Channel, as well as Farrier's downed sidekick (Jack Lowden). And watching from the beach are the commanders of the Navy and Army (Kenneth Branagh and James D'Arcy, respectively), both of whom struggle to keep their emotions at bay.

Against the odds, Nolan makes each of these men (at least one could perhaps have been cast as a woman) a complex, engaging, riveting character with his own dramatic arc. Their experiences feel urgent and timeless, still powerfully recognisable to audiences nearly 80 years after the fact. As a result, scenes carry a potent kick, whether they're quietly introspective or staged on a staggeringly epic scale for the Imax cameras. And the climactic sequence in which all three plotlines come together with the sinking of a ship, an aerial battle and a perilous oil slick is simply breathtaking.

Watch the trailer for Dunkirk:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Production compaines: Canal+, Studio Canal, Warner Bros., Syncopy, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Kaap Holland Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Starring: Fionn Whitehead as Tommy, as Commander Bolton of the Royal Navy, as Captain of the Moonstone, as Farrier, as BEF Officer, as Alex, as Lieutenant-Colonel Winnant, BEF, as Gibson, Barry Keoghan as George, Tom Glynn-Carney as Older son of Moonstone captain, Bobby Lockwood as Seaman on Hospital Ship, Miranda Nolan as Nurse on Destroyer, Kevin Guthrie as A&SH BEF soldier, Brian Vernel as A&SH BEF soldier, as Highlander, as Rear-Admiral of the Royal Navy, Jochum ten Haaf as Dutch Trawler Man, Damien Bonnard as French Soldier, Adam Long as Second Lt. Jeffries, Michael Fox as Royal Engineer, BEF, Will Attenborough as Lt. Howe of the Royal Navy, James Bloor as Oily Survivor, Paul Riley Fox as British Soldier, Richard Sanderson as Heinkel Spotter, Valiant Michael as Warrant Officer, Piers Stubbs as British Soldier (voice), Johnny Otto as Captain Marshall, Jan-Michael Rosner as British Soldier, Brandon Duracher as Soldier, Samgar Jacobs as Royal Navy, Robby Prinsen as Royal Navy Officer, Nat Shervington as British Expeditionary Force Soldier, Simon Ates as Soldier, Caleb Bailey as French Soldier, Thomas Millet as French Soldier, Constantin Balsan as French Soldier, Aldo Beqiri as British Expeditionary Force Soldier, Sander Huisman as Private Davies, Callum Blake as Warrant Officer, Luke Thompson as Nurse on Destroyer, Crystal Pereyra as Royal Navy Sailor, Bram Vlot as Sailor from Deal, Calam Lynch as Private Edwards, Jack Riddiford as British Soldier on the Sittard, Merlijn Willemsen as French Soldier, Michel Biel as Sailor on Destroyer, Niels van 't Dek as Marine, Nirman Wolf as Furious Soldier, Tom Gill as Royal Navy Officer, Christian Roberts as British Expeditionary Force Soldier, Nick Vorsselman as British Expeditionary Force Soldier, Jedediah Jenk as British Soldier, as Sailor on Destroyer, Bradley Hall as British Soldier, Jack Gover as British Soldier / Station Officer, Davey Jones as Engineer, Michael Fox as Corporal, Charley Palmer Rothwell as Sub-Lieutenant, as Radio Communication (voice)

Contactmusic


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