Film Review: Dunkirk


Director: Christopher Nolan; Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Jack Lowden, James D’Arcy, Kenneth Branagh. 12A cert, 106 mins.

It’s a chapter of history you would have heard before. By the end of May in 1940 the majority of the British Army had found itself on the beaches of Dunkirk in Northern France, after being forced back by an ever advancing German force.

Only 50 miles from home but cut off by the English Channel the troops could do nothing but await their fate as the Royal Navy targeted by U-boats and dive bombers repeatedly tried to reach the stranded men.

The fantastic way about how this film is made is that it focuses on three different time periods; one week, one day and one hour respectively. Thus allowing the viewer to realise how much of survival in war is upon chance and a series of fortunate coincidences.

There are some fantastically shot action scenes in the film, that have you on the edge of your seat; made only better when viewed on the big screen as opposed to at home. The opening scene starts with a small section of troops being shot at while walking in a French village, and while you cannot see the enemy the ‘crack’ and ‘pop’ of the rifle fire makes you believe you are there.

A first appearance by one direction star Harry Styles who had a small but well played role. Alongside Tom Hardy who plays a heroic spitfire pilot, tasked with providing air cover for the troops on the beach who finds himself in a difficult situation more than once.

Kenneth Branagh in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Credit: Warner Bros

The attention to detail is meticulous throughout most of the film although the German Messerschmitt did not have a yellow nose cone until later in the War.

And french film Critic Jacques Mandelbaum accused the director of being “witheringly impolite” and “indifferent” toward the role the French played in the evacuation of Allied troops, writing: “No one can deny a director’s right to focus his point of view on what he sees fit, as long as it does not deny the reality of which it claims to represent.

“Where in the film are the 120,000 French soldiers who were also evacuated from Dunkirk? Where are the 40,000 who sacrificed themselves to defend the city against a superior enemy in weaponry and numbers?”

But as a British star film this epic. The sort of film that comes out once in a decade. If you haven’t already booked tickets to go and see it – do so right now. You will not be disappointed.