Dunkirk ★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Honestly shocked that I didn't go for this.

Took it for granted that I would be impressed - and as a portrait of a time and place, I was. Van Hoytema's photography is stunning, particularly the aerial stuff. But I found the script to be one contrived bit of suspense after another. And Nolan seemed so concerned with avoiding war movie cliches, that he failed to create a single memorable character. Others seemed to exist for purposes of exposition alone. (The exception, sort of, is Tom Hardy, who is more heroic presence than character.) The lack of dialogue was effective at first but soon felt more like a lack of imagination. (I get it that everyone is scared shitless, but why does every beautifully coiffed brunette have to be a wide-eyed mute? What, no Irishman, Scots or Welsh to liven things up?) Same goes for Nolan's decision to keep the enemy out of sight except in the form of torpedos, bombs, bullets and planes: effective at first (they're everywhere!), but it soon lead to logistical questions like, how many planes do the Nazis have anyway and did Tom Hardy shoot them ALL down? And the scale of the movie: at once huge and yet still too small. It never felt to me like there were 400,000 men on that beach. I'd believe maybe 5,000? And impossible for me to believe that the relatively small fleet of private boats that Nolan shows us would be capable of evacuating that many men anyway.

Worst of all, despite all Nolan's efforts (and the subject matter itself), it still ends up being a conventional war movie. It glorifies without ever even asking us to consider the point of it all.


Nolan filmography
Interstellar *****
Inception ***
Dark Knight Rises n/a
The Dark Knight **
The Prestige ****
Batman Begins ***
Insomnia **
Memento *****

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