Review: Dunkirk


Year: 2017
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Tom Hardy

This movie refers to Battle of Dunkirk, a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940 (wikipedia).

I have been a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work ever since The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, hence I was expecting a lot from Dunkirk. Well, I was not disappointed at all! In fact, I really really like this movie! It is brilliant in all aspects: the storyline, the cast, the cinematography, the music; each piece fits beautifully and creates a beautiful mosaics for audiences.

The movie started with a story of Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young British soldier who tried to leave Dunkirk. Trapped in the island with other 400,000 devastated soldiers who also wanted to go home, Tommy had to find a way to ensure he would not be part of those unlucky troops who might be left behind. Trying his luck, he quickly picked up a stretcher to bring a wounded soldier to medical boat, hoping he could sail away with the medical team. Unfortunately it didn’t work and forced Tommy to find another way to save himself. While Tommy was struggling in the land, in the skies above, Spitfire pilots Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) took off to Dunkirk to protect people in the island by shooting down enemy planes. Limited fuel and wave of enemy planes did not make the job easy for both of them. In the sea, Mr. Dawson (Mike Rylance) together with his son, Pete and his friend George, headed off to Dunkirk in his boat to save as many British soldiers they could get. They encountered a shell-shocked soldier on a wrecked ship and took him aboard. When the soldier discovered that Dawson was sailing for Dunkirk, he tried to take control of the boat and accidentally pushed George down to the lower deck. The latter got severe blow to the head and lost his sight. All three events seemed not related at all, until the truth appeared in the middle of the movie.  

It was brilliant. The fact that the movie tells a story of three different events in parallel actually blows my mind. In the beginning I thought everything happens in a sequence manner, which means one event after another. However in the middle of the movie, I (and I believe everyone else) noticed the oddity of the flow when similar event happens again, but this time from different person’s point of view. That’s when I started questioning if those events were actually happened in different timeline and somehow linked to each other. This so much reminds me to Inception in which Nolan was playing with the concept of dream and reality, which linked back again to time. Seems the concept of “playing with time” is one of Nolan’s favorite, which in a way can be classifed as his signature on his movies. 

I love the cinematography and the sound of this movie. Everything was just perfect, not less and not too much. Sometimes in a war movie, I feel like the sound was dominating a bit too much (which I expect) to give more impact to the audiences. Watching Dunkirk, I  still feel the same impact with less attack to my eardrums. The casts are great, each one of them played a very convincing role which pushed the story moving forward. Fionn Whitehead was basically Tommy in my eyes: a young soldier who was trying to leave Dunkirk by doing anything he could. I feel like I am part of his “virtual” team: supporting him along the way and feeling nervous everytime he tried to do something to gain his freedom. I could totally relate to Mike Rylance’s role as a dad who wanted to do something in behalf of his soldier son who passed away in the war. Mr. Dawson’s story was told in a simple yet effective manner which makes me symphatized even more to him. Surprisingly, I love Jack Lowden’s Collins character, whom I find somehow interesting, though he only appeared in less than a 30% portion of the movie. 

Overall it was a very good and entertaining movie which for sure lasts in my mind. Nolan obviously had a job well done. No doubt it gets my 5 out of 5 stars rate. 

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