I will readily admit I waited until I had heard some feedback before I went to see this film. This was for a couple of reasons…firstly I really hate war films which incorporate a farcical love story which has been orchestrated just to tug at your heart strings a little bit more, it's generally unneeded, war is devastating enough without two very good looking people being parted and that being the axis that the film revolves on. Secondly it is usually glorifying the actions and script or director tries to make it seem like everyone had a purpose, not that war is generally fought by people that really have no real idea of why they are there aside from their patronage to their country. This might seem surprising as I am a bit of a sucker for ancient love story and for anyone who has read more than a few of most posts you'll know I love a bit of history, but there is something really off putting for me when you combine war glorification as so many were killed for the action of so few.
I was really amazingly surprised right from the off of this film. I know I usually do a walk through of what happens in the films, but as this one is so new out, I won't. Instead I will just rave about how brilliantly this was conveyed.
From the off, you see desperate men who are wondering the streets scared, I think that this opening scene truly captures the true heart of war. Obviously in the current times communications have become much better with anyone out in the front lines able to retain some form of contact, but back in WW2 there was remarkably less.
The scenes on the beach are subtly traumatic, especially when you combine the atmosphere and sheer numbers of men who were stranded, yet it is all very much met with the English stiff upper lip.
Do be aware that there are three perspectives and three time lines happening in this film, which adds to the atmosphere, but sometimes distracts from the action, especially as the Brechtian techniques of performance being a representation of reality, and the multilayered timeline construction doubles back on itself which left me sometimes confused as to which ship had been sunk at what time…especially as the same guy ended up on each of the ships followed (thoughts of uncle Albert from 'Only fools and horses' did enter my mind).
I really liked the from the air perspective, but ladies, if you are expecting to see Tom Hardy in all his glory, you will be disappointed and just have to put up with staring dreamily in to his eyes for the majority of the time he is on screen. The air attacks have been well depicted and intense enough for you to understand the pilots perspective.
The actual cinematography of this film, is rather beautiful for a war film, acting as a reminder that is it man that brings these devastating actions and ravaging the beautiful seas and lands. One shot particularly sticks in my mind, of the sun hitting the sea as a ship moves through the water, it's a juxtaposition of natural beauty and a stark reality before the ship sinks.
Nolan has really triumphed with this film, from the look and feel, to the sparse but very effective script, even the sound track of a constant ticking, like a clock or a heart beat through out the whole film being something that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
You rarely see the enemy, keeping them out of view with the exception of seeing their planes which just adds to the feeling of the unknown that the troops would have felt.
I particularly like the end of the film, the perception of the troops that made it home, that they would not be welcomed as they felt they failed, only to be treated with open arms. I feel it's a very true and natural presentation of how those who made it back would have felt.
I do have one moan, and that would be about the length of time the spitfire glides at the end, I swear he could have made it back to England for the amount of time it felt like he was gliding.
Even if you are not a war film fan, I urge you to go and see this film. Understand what happened on the beach of Dunkirk and what inspired the most well known of Churchill's speeches.