Dunkirk ★★★★★

As I considered a recent viewing of We Are Still Here and what made that deeply flawed film work so well in its opening minutes, I realized that great horror has the unique and charming propensity to put its best scene at the very start of a film. If that's the case, I can finally trace why Dunkirk feels so different as a war picture: it's not a war picture at all. Bloodless though it may be, this is horror, start to finish.

A relentless, suffocating film with very little story and even less dialogue, Dunkirk feels like the project Nolan’s career has been pitched toward from the start and will certainly be remembered as his best.

Cinematic in a way we don’t often see today (the last reminder was blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road), the film takes full advantage of Nolan’s ambitious production design habits, couples them with Hans Zimmer’s panic-attack-inducing score and dumps, almost by necessity, his penchant for thematically clunky writing. It does pull a bit of a stunt in deconstructing and reconstructing the chronology of the battle’s events, a typically Nolan chore perhaps even more exhausting here because of the subject matter than in the likes of Memento or Inception, but I can’t explain how such a huge problem I saw in the structure didn’t seem to matter by the end.

Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles and especially Mark Rylance are all spectacular and Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is jaw-dropping, particularly in the opening.

For those of us in Europe who've still got the opportunity, Dunkirk is the best reason in a very long time to go to the IMAX. Bring your inhaler.

Corey liked this review