‘Dunkirk’ subverts expectations in all the right ways
After quite some anticipation, director Christopher Nolan (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight,” “Memento”) is ready to`amaze audiences yet again with his newest film, “Dunkirk.” Taking place during World War II, the gripping tale takes the perspectives of British soldiers from land to sea to air to tell the true story of the Dunkirk evacuation.
And quite frankly, that’s it. What sets “Dunkirk” apart from so many other war movies is that it truly is about the event and practically nothing else. Nowhere in this film will you find moments of characters rambling about their backstory. There is no part where we see a character making the decision to join the army. Never is there a part where someone dies and everything stops to take time to dramatize their death. In most films, especially war films, having characters you barely have time to get to know can be a major flaw. However, this is exactly what makes “Dunkirk” one of the most masterfully crafted films of the year.
This is a film that knows what it needs to be about and in no way tries to appeal to mainstream audiences. Given that this is based on a true story, it’s main focus constantly stays on the action and war, which is done magnificently. Utilizing mostly practical effects and set pieces, coupled with some superb editing, sound design and cinematography, the film makes what is occurring contain a real sense of rawness that translates to its storytelling.
The film’s strong focus on the action gives it a very smooth-paced feel throughout. Since the characters are not the focus, the film makes sure only to slow itself down when it is actually crucial to do so. What makes this exceptional is that while we can’t connect with any characters in particular, the scope of the event itself is what keeps us invested and draws strong emotions out of the audience. We care about these people because even if we can’t identify with them individually, the intensity of these situations, as well as the stellar performances, are so well-executed that we still want to see them survive.
Overall, “Dunkirk” is an exceptional war film that must be seen to be believed. While it may not cater much to those who beg for a character-driven story, the film makes it clear from the get-go that’s not its intent and in no way does it abandon that intent. With its stellar combination of raw storytelling and masterful direction, Christopher Nolan has delivered another masterpiece making “Dunkirk” a must-see for anyone with a love for cinema.