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Dunkirk

 
 
Film Information
 

Plot: British troops stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk wait to be evacuated, with German forces closing in.
Release Date: 21st July 2017
Director(s): Christopher Nolan
Cast: Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy
BBFC Certificate: 12A
Running Time: 106 mins
Country Of Origin: UK
Review By: Andy Psyllides
Film Genre: , , ,
 
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5/ 5


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Bottom Line


Christopher Nolan's gripping, gruelling war epic is his finest film yet.


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Posted July 22, 2017 by

 
Film Review
 
 

Christopher Nolan‘s gripping, gruelling war epic is his finest film yet. An exhausting, often overwhelming experience, it’s essentially a single, ever-intensifying set-piece that plunges you into the nightmarish chaos of the Dunkirk evacuation. It’s May 1940, eight months into World War II, and 400,000 British troops find themselves stranded and helpless on the shores of northern France. The safety and security of home lies just across the water, but with the advancing German forces almost at their backs they’re desperate and almost broken – sitting ducks praying for deliverance.

From minute one it’s a constant struggle to survive, to endure, Nolan setting the tone with a chest-pounding opening sequence that introduces Fionn Whitehead‘s Tommy – our main eyes and ears. He and other gaunt-looking squaddies are wandering through the deserted Dunkirk streets when a shot from an unseen German gun shatters the quiet and jolts you clean out of your chair. From here Hans Zimmer‘s groaning, grimly effective score kicks in and Tommy and thousands of others like him – including a perfectly fine Harry Styles – are thrown from one fresh hell to the next.

Glimmers of hope are snuffed out from both above and below, with circling Stuka planes and U-boats sinking the few British ships that Kenneth Branagh‘s naval commander has at his disposal. Still, even amid all the panic and despair, Nolan never overdoes it. Instead of unnecessary grandstanding and melodrama we get an intelligent, split-focus narrative that also features Tom Hardy‘s outgunned Spitfire pilot and stoic civilian volunteer Mark Rylance – the latter joining the now legendary flotilla of small fishing craft.

The performances, to a man, remain impressively understated, while the dialogue is cut to the bone.


Andrew Psyllides

 


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