Friday, July 21, 2017

Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
DOP: Hoyte van Hoytema
Cast: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh

Film follows the events in French port Dunkirk where allied soldiers are surrounded by the German army and attacked from the air by the Luftwaffe during second world war.  If you have a cursory knowledge of second world war, you will know how it ended with many of the troops rescued and that is not really a spoiler.

The last film that I liked from Nolan was Inception and that was a long time ago. He is someone whose speciality is in having convoluted narrative techniques. Building interesting characters have never really been his forte. In his last film, Interstellar, he tried to make it about characters and it miserably failed (Murphhhhhh!). In Dunkirk, he is playing to his strengths by not trying to establish many/any characters and we are straight away put into their situations and follow from there. There is also his trademark narrative flourishes and that is essential for the storytelling as well. From the beginning itself three timeliness are introduced: first one from Dunkirk beach one week ago, second one from a civilian yacht called up for action from one day ago and the third one with three fighter pilots defending the rescue mission from one hour ago. We jump from these timeliness throughout the film and they converge at its climax very effectively. Filmmaker trusts his audience to make note of it and those who don't can still enjoy it as a minor twist.

It would've been easier for him to have us
invest too much into the characters and leave us hanging, wondering about their fate. But this is purely about the war situation they are in and it is glorious. It is a no-nonsense treatment like it was for Mad Max: Fury Road. Some might complain about the lack of blood and flying limbs  (PG-13), unlike Saving Private Ryan, but it anyway manages to convey the danger and fear without any of that (Hans Zimmer, bro). As for Saving Private Ryan, what good is all the violence in first thirty minutes if you are following up that with a sappy feel-good story. The color tone and the cinematography feel is similar to how it was for in Interstellar during that sea and tidal tsunami scene. It was also very refreshing to see realistic looking firing and explosions, especially during the dogfights.

Overall it is a stunning watch and do see it at the widest screen near you with the best sound system. Some British critics have called it Nolan's best film till date and I wouldn't go that far. He still tries to shoehorn some character arc resolutions and clichéd tension building scenes which were not really necessary. At one hour forty five minutes, there isn't any flab to it and it is a shame that intervals are mandatory in Indian cinema theatres. I'll certainly be trying to catch it again at the cinemas.

PS: Waiting for Tom Hardy in Nazi PoW camp sequel directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Rating: 4.75/5