Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Fionn WhiteheadMark RylanceTom HardyKenneth BranaghJames D’ArcyCillian MurphyHarry StylesDamien BonnardAneurin BarnardBarry KeoghanTom Glynn-CarneyJack Lowden
Seen on: 28.7.2017

It’s the middle of World War II and the Allied forces are struggling. But the situation is nowhere as precarious as in Dunkirk where 400.000 soldiers are huddled on a beach, with no way out but the sea – only that they are easy targets there for the German air force. The situation is desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, civilans take their boats and start the journey from Great Britain to France to pick up the soldiers.

To say that I liked or enjoyed Dunkirk would be very much the wrong vocabulary to use. But I did think it’s a good film that is very effectively made, managing to create tension and pressure, especially via the soundtrack, that is hard to stand.

I saw this film with two friends who wanted to watch it because of Tom Hardy and Harry Styles respectively and if you’re only in the film to ogle pretty dudes, don’t – this is not the film for ogling. But it is a film to hammer home the awful situation of the soldiers on that beach – over and over again.

The film follows various plot lines to do that and to show the different perspectives. It connects those threads very well, but I have to say I wouldn’t have minded if they had decided to stick with one of the strands – namely the one with Tommy (Fionn Whitehead; who has a face made for cinema if ever I saw one). I can imagine that this would have made the film feel even more claustrophobic.

But with the lack of a main storyline, it does give room for an unusual overarching protagonist: that is the soundtrack. Since the music usually works in the background, pulling (emotional) strings without being noticed, it was a little irritating at times how much it plays an active role. But it also proved a very effective way to never let the tension drop, giving a relentless urgency, even when the images are captured are very much at odds with it in their beauty (especially the aerial images were really pretty).

It’s not a comfortable film and as I watched it, I went from liking it to hating it and back a few times. But in the end, the part of me that admires the skillful portrayal of a horrible situation definitely won over.

Summarizing: strong, but I can understand if it doesn’t appeal.

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