Dunkirk

Dunkirk ★★★★★

"Dunkirk" is the best reason to see a movie in a theater in years, probably since "Gravity." (This is not a comparison of the films' quality - I'm just talking about the benefits of them being seen on as large a screen as possible.)

"Intense" doesn't even begin to describe "Dunkirk." There's not a single moment during its tight and perfect 106 minute running time where the tension lets up; it's not all battles and explosions, but even the quiet moments are filled with the dread of knowing that could change in an instant. Couple this with Hans Zimmer's score pulsing like a ticking clock throughout the whole film, and you're not gonna be sitting back in your chair for a second.*

Nolan being Nolan, the movie plays with time, with the three components of the movie (sea, air, and land) taking place in different dilations, before coming together at the end. It sounds confusing, and maybe even IS at first, but you get the hang of it. I'll be honest: I initially wondered if this was just Nolan being clever for the sake of being clever, but it actually does add a lot, allowing us to see the same scene from different perspectives at different points in the movie.

Mark Rylance as Mr. Dawson is your standout performer, though the acting is great across the board, including Harry Styles as one of the many brown-haired young men in the film. (I'm not even kidding here: Tom Glynn-Carney, as Dawson's son, Peter, was the only teenager who was consistently recognizable, because of his blond hair.)

Technically, the film is a marvel. In particular, Hoyte Van Hoytema's cinematography, Lee Smith's editing, and the work of the entire sound design department are spectacular.

In short, "Dunkirk" is, for me, the best film of the year so far, and if you have any chance of seeing it in 70mm IMAX, it's well worth whatever extra money or time you might have to spend.

*A note about the score: I don't think I'll be buying this one, because unlike several others by Zimmer (Interstellar, The Thin Red Line, etc.), it doesn't seem like an enjoyable listen apart from the film. But I can't emphasize enough how integral it is to "Dunkirk," and how perfectly it works.

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