Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Movie with Abe: Dunkirk

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Released July 21, 2017

Christopher Nolan has made a number of epic films throughout the past two decades. “Memento,” an immensely cleverly-constructed head trip, was his first big hit, and following that, he rose to prominence for his dark Batman trilogy. His past six films, of which “Interstellar” and “The Dark Knight Rises” are the clear favorites of this reviewer, have all existed in the realm of science fiction and fantasy, leading many to expect the same from him going forward. His latest project is a typically well-crafted work of art, this time grounded in history and capable of capturing the imagination without the aid of any fantastical elements.

“Dunkirk” opens with a legion of soldiers trapped on the beach of Dunkirk, France in the middle of World War II. Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) stands at the end of the dock looking out to the sea for any hope of rescue, which seems less and less likely as fire hits the beach and the boats attempting to ferry the soldiers back the short distance to England. Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), the owner of a small boat, heeds the command to donate his vessel to the service of his country, though he insists on piloting it to Dunkirk himself with his son and his young friend in tow. And in the air, pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) begins the hourlong journey to Dunkirk to provide whatever support he can to his army.

Nolan has established himself as more than capable of turning a moment into an eternity in the best possible way. Like “Memento,” this film is not structured in a clear linear fashion, which serves to enhance the feeling of the time since it seems like escape from Dunkirk will never come. There is a magnificent power that comes from watching hundreds of soldiers bend down at exactly the same way to avoid an aerial assault that they believe will begin immediately and then rise back up at the same time when the moment has passed. The entire experience here is captivating from start to finish, fully engaging and involving the whole time.

What “Dunkirk” proves is that Nolan doesn’t need space or super powers to create an impactful and effective film. He also manages to tell this visceral war story in just an hour and forty-seven minutes, his shortest film since his little-seen debut, “Following.” Some of his regulars, like Hardy and Murphy, serve their purpose well in the cast, and the enlistment of the likes of Branagh and Rylance is a boon to his ensemble. The cinematography, film editing, and sound editing all shine in this harrowing war film that doesn’t feel gratuitous at all and is not easy to forget.


No comments: