Based on a true story, written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Fionn Whitehead, Dunkirk is about allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France who are surrounded by the German army and need to evacuate or die during a fierce, very one-sided battle on the beaches of Dunkirk, France during World War II.
Mr. Nolan picked a perfect battle (poor choice of words when we’re talking about war, I know – but you know what I mean) to adapt into a film because Dunkirk features excitement in the air as well as on the ground. Dunkirk is well written, suspenseful (even though you can tell pretty much how it all turns out) and totally engrossing. The writing is tight. There is not one ounce of fluff or junk or side story that distracts from the story telling at hand. It is powerful, because it depicts the atrocities of war in a succinct and disturbingly violent way that is not overly-graphic. There are bombs dropping and shots being fired throughout the entire movie. There could have been body parts flying and gore galore. Instead, Nolan decided it was more important to pay attention to the story – not all the “effects” of it all, and it pays off. There is absolutely enough violence in the movie without seeing detached limbs, intestines, etc. There wasn’t even much blood as the blood and gore aren’t necessary here. Not having seen the original Dunkirk (1958) I cannot say how the two films compare. Nolan’s version makes me want to watch that version, and I always consider being motivated to learn more a good thing.
The entire cast did an outstanding job. Mark Rylance is just one of those effortless professionals that I enjoy, and any time I get to watch him do what he does is a good time for me. The cast is filled with many characters who you must get to know very quickly. You develop attachment to and affection for them despite the fact that they don’t have time to be too richly developed. I mean, we know who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” were/are here, so you want the good guys to make it through the battle. The suspense lies in not knowing who will make it through alive and who will not and when are those bomber planes coming back around!
The cinematography, costumes, makeup, set design, scenery, editing, and sound are all impeccable. I cannot imagine how much time these dudes spent in the water while filming. OH! And there were even a couple of soldiers of color there! I’m willing to bet you the 1958 version didn’t show any of them! Any takers? I didn’t think so… They didn’t have any lines, but they were there, and it’s nice to see events accurately portrayed and people of color represented for a change of pace. (As Arabs and Berbers did fight with the Brits. And I’m not trying to act like I knew that off the top of my head because I did not. Anyone can google and learn!).
Admittedly, Dunkirk is one of those movies I had to think through for a while after I saw it before realizing exactly how good it is, or at least how good I believe it is. I just now worked it all out while writing about it. Before writing, a coworker asked me how it was and I was like “Meh…” There is nothing “meh” about this movie. It really is quite good.
Dunkirk earned 9 out of 10 bloops. It is an excellent movie that is violent but not gory, well-acted, well written… I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it honestly. I do, however, reserve the right to stop short of calling a “masterpiece,” and giving it that elusive 10th bloop. If you enjoy war movies this is for you.
1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing this week…
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro