Christopher Nolan is today´s most popular director, with thousands of fans and detractors around the world and being considered the world´s best filmmaker by the audience and a lot of critics. He´s certainly a very good filmmaker, but by far the most overrated, without the greatness of Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson or Scorsese. He´s made some impressive movies, but pretentious, self-indulgent, grandiloquent and narratively cheaty, full of high self-esteem, heavy dialogue, fatuous morality and trickery of the audience, being Memento and The Dark Knight his only really great movies. Nevertheless, he´s yet to film a bad movie, so I was interested to see his new work, his first war movie, with the exciting fact of being shot in 70 mm. And considering that I had the opportunity to watch it in IMAX in London´s ODEON BFI Southbank, as it was conceived to be screened, I ran to the venue prepared to submerge in the film experience with open eyes and willing to be surprised by this movie. And I must recognise that I was blown away with that kind of screening and what it meant for the spectator, and I also enjoyed a technically flawless movie who succeeded in his ambitions. Even though his depth turns out to be disappointing, and the interpretations and reflection it provoques is limited, as it is its emotional impact in the cinephile subconscious, it offers a very intense two hours of enjoyment and thrill at the edge of your seat.
The film places us during German´s nazi army invasion of France in 1940, when thousands of British and allied soldiers were forced through the beach of Dunkirk, were they will be trapped. By air and sea, they will try a huge and dangerous evacuation with the help of different military and civilian forces through some terrible hours of continuous attack, in a clock-ticking fight between life and death. A story that centers entirely in that battle, and focuses on making the spectators feeling themselves inside of it, alongside the soldiers. A tale of suffocation, claustrophobia and brutal, physical suspense. Is not a movie about the war, but the hellish experience of being in it. It makes you suffer with noise, debris and bombing, and puts you in the anxiety situation of this young men, running against the clock, intermixing three stories of different chronologies in a radical scenario of playful storytelling. His cast of young soldiers and veteran and recognisable british faces merge into a tale of no character development, but mere realist recreation of the battlefield. A product of cerebral construction and measured pacing, exhausting energy and non-stopping danger. Amazingly photographed with wide lenses by the great Hoyte van Hoytema and exquisitely sound designed, with a penetrative soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, consistent of vibrations, noises and sustained music notes. And just for achieving so masterfully the objective it sets, the movie, a show of domain in film craftsmanship, should be praised. And it certainly deserves a first viewing.
If the audiovisual elements of the movie are flawless, as well as his tone choices and handling of tension, burden and fear, his narrative core turns out to be pretty simple, and the emotional connection with the characters is thin and cold. His elements, after a while, feels reiterative, and after 10 minutes the narrative device feels tiring and insisting, leaving the audience exhausted and with nothing more to add to the recalling of the movie. It doesn´t really have a plot, and his absolute lack of subtlety will always annoy someone like me. This films works great as an experience, but not as a great movie to recall and revisit with the pass of days and years. It doesn´t really leave any psychological impact. And even if that makes it a great movie for both general audiences and demanding film reviewers, it can´t seduce those who love movies with soul and stories that provoque great emotional impact.
Absorbing, meticulous and spectacular, Dunkirk is not a masterpiece in the slightest, but is certainly the cinematic event of the summer. 7,4/10