Esteban Gonzalez’s review published on Letterboxd:
¨Seeing home doesn't help us get there, Captain.¨
I can guarantee you that the price of admission for a Christopher Nolan film will always be worth your money even though he decides to direct a Barbie film. Nolan is perhaps the best director working today and I have yet to see a movie of his that I have rated less than four stars. He is a craftsman and he's passionate about each project he chooses to work on. Dunkirk was probably my most anticipated film of the year, and I'm not even a fan of the war genre. You couldn't have sold me a movie by telling me it was going to focus on the Allied soldiers evacuating Dunkirk beach during World War II. This is just not the type of film I'm interested in seeing, but all I needed to know was that Christopher Nolan was directing this and I was sold. He never disappoints and somehow perhaps because of the subject matter the film hasn't been talked about as much as it should have. Dunkirk ranks among Nolan's best, but it's extremely hard to say in what exact place because he's directed so many masterpieces. This will go down in history as one of the best war movies ever made because it focuses on a rare theme, one of defeat and surrender, but at the same time that defeat was the turning point for the Allied forces. You can lose a battle, but still win the war and that's what Nolan decided to focus on by concentrating on the human element and exploring the very thin line between cowardice and fear. What happens when you return home waving the white flag? The response may surprise us.
I first want to give credit to Nolan for the way he structures this film. He is a fabulous screenwriter and he never settles for a straightforward narrative. He's the man who gave us the dream inside a dream sequence for God's sake. In Dunkirk he tells the story in three different times. First we have the beach sequence where the British soldiers are desperate to find a way back home taking place during the course of one week. Then we have a scene focusing on a British civilian who owns a small boat responding to a call from the Navy to rescue stranded soldiers at Dunkirk. That scene takes place during the course of one day. Why civilians? Because German planes are attacking the British navy ships that are attempting to rescue these soldiers. That leads us to the third sequence which focuses on a group of British Spitfire pilots who are trying to defend their ships from air strikes. This scene takes place during the course of one hour. The three sequences overlap one another despite the time differences and eventually all the pieces of the puzzle fall together in the right place. The scenes in land, air, and water are all magnificent and tense leaving the viewer with almost no time to take a breath. This isn't just a wonderful viewing experience, the soundtrack and the sound editing is perfect here and we as the audience get to be as close as possible to the real thing.
What makes Dunkirk such a truly amazing experience is that there really isn't a central character to the story. The main character is survival in the midst of all the caos. It doesn't matter whether the main action is taking place in land, air, or water every moment is extremely claustrophobic and all we want is for these soldiers to escape the war and find safety. I loved the fact that Nolan cast so many young inexperienced actors because it added to the overall sense of these soldiers being placed in a spot that they weren't really ready for. It doesn't hurt of course to have some talented actors such as Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy to play supporting characters. I was in love with the Spitfire fighting sequences and Tom Hardy manages to stand out once again performing most of his scenes from inside the jet with his face covered. These are by far the most exciting air fighting sequences I have seen on film, and the visuals were simply spectacular. The film opens with tension and it maintains it during the course of its 100 minute run time without ever allowing the audience to catch their breath. It was truly an amazing experience and one that you won't regret seeing in the biggest screen possible with the best sound equipment available. If you suffer from claustrophobia then this might not be the film for you, but if you get through it you may never suffer from it again because you will never get more enclosed than at Dunkirk.