NOLAN BACK IN TOP FORM
Film Review by Fiore
After INCEPTION, Director and Writer Christopher Nolan spiraled in his filmmaking endeavors. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was only a shadow of THE DARK KNIGHT, and INTERSTELLAR was a non-medical cure for insomnia. After two missteps, Nolan announced his next project would be DUNKIRK, a WWII story detailing one of the worst Allied defeats. Eyebrows were raised, both in the artistic and studio realms. The skeptics now have egg on their faces, as Nolan is back in top form. DUNKIRK easily surpasses Brad Pitt’s FURY, and is one of the better war films of the last decade.
There is no misstep in DUNKIRK. While some of Nolan’s steady band of co-conspirators grace the screen, the cast is comprised mainly of newcomers. His penchant for non-linear story telling is in prime force and the creative cinematography he presented in INCEPTION is present here in the form of aerial dogfights between the British and Nazi pilots.
The battle of DUNKIRK is all but over. The Germans have a decisive victory and have pushed the British and French armies to the edge of the sea. The story unfolds as the British are trying desperately to retreat home to England. As the soldiers wait for boats on the beaches, the Nazis systematically perform scathing runs, slaughtering the defeated. Tommy, played by Fionn Whitehead and Gibson, played by Aneurin Barnard, form a trio with a French soldier, played by Damien Bonnard. Their main concern is to maneuver their way to an escape boat by any means possible.
The British soldiers are hoping for destroyers and the Royal Air Force for help, but with the fall of DUNKIRK, the British homeland is averse to expending the resources. The next battle will be on British soil, as Hitler advances and Churchill does not want to risk leaving the homeland with less than full resources. Instead, what the soldiers receive are a mere three planes for aerial support and an armada of private vessels commissioned by the Royal Navy from private citizens.
Viewers are treated to the exploits of the three pilots, including Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden, and the crew of one of the citizen boats, featuring Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance and Tom Glynn-Carney. The stories are compelling and reenacted with assurance.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. GLIDING IN THE PLANE
2. THE BOMBING OF THE BOAT
3. TARGET PRACTICE
While Nolan specializes in non-linear storytelling, this time he adds the dimension of perspective. Often, the same scene is shown, at different times in the movie, from the perspective of a different character. For example: When a boat is bombed, we see the event from the perspective of those on the boat, the pilots, and those waiting for rescue.
I joked, going into the press screening, how Nolan would incorporate worlds folding on top of one another into a WWII movie. He did, quite cleverly, using point-of-view shots from the perspective of the British pilots. Cant camera movements reign supreme, thanks to the work of Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. Visual Effects Supervisor Andrew Jackson and SFX Scott Fisher combine their talents for realism and authenticity. The overall visual construct is exceptionally impressive. For this reason, DUNKIRK should be seen on the big screen.
Let’s take a look at the report card for DUNKIRK:
1.2 ACTING = A
1.3 CINEMATOGRAPHY = A
1.4 SOUND/MUSIC = B
1.5 EDITING = A
1.6 LIGHTING = B
1.7 SCRIPT = A
1.8 SFX = A
1.9 ACTION = A
DUNKIRK rocks from the opening reel to its conclusion. The film is filled with tension and action. While Nolan’s script is noteworthy, certainly the editing expertise of Lee Smith should also be noted. The film is held to under two hours, with each minute packed with adventure.
DUNKIRK is more than just a good war flick, it’s a good movie. This is filmmaking at its finest. Nolan has reclaimed his spot atop the Director-Writer heap in Tinseltown. Don’t miss this one. It is worth the price of admission, and numerous awards at year’s end.