Vicentini’s review published on Letterboxd:
Go see it in IMAX!
A technically flawless cinematic masterpiece that far exceeds expectations on any level when you analyze only that. Unfortunately, I can't analyse only one specific detail of a film.
Dunkirk is filled up with the greatest compliments I could ever possibly give a movie when it comes to its direction, its visuals, its sound and the extremely precise use of the IMAX cameras. Nolan masterfully creates and builds tension on a hyperrealistic way that does put the audience in the middle of every single shot framed by Hoyte Van Hoytema. Mixing the grand visual spectacle with the fantastic sound design/score (by Hans Zimmer, my favorite score from him since The Dark Knight Rises by far), Nolan takes the cinematic immersion to the next level. We feel every shot fired, every explosion, the feeling of getting drowned, of getting smashed, the desperation of having nowhere to go when you see German airplanes come to bomb the shore of Dunkirk. You feel like you're the pilot on that cockpit having to shoot your foes and be careful not to get shot by them, the thrilling and panicking feeling that you will be killed any moment. You feel the most frightening sensation of confinement and impossibility to survive a situation. You feel like you are in this movie. And only with this sentence I can already say Dunkirk is not a movie to be missed on the biggest and loudest screen possible.
And I have to give major props to the unbelievable stunts Nolan was able to conceive with the IMAX 70mm cameras. Not only when their airborne, which is already a merit to endlessly praise but also when its handheld and closer to the people trying to survive inside the ships. The whole crew deserves every and any praise they can get for this fantastic achievement.
But, sadly, Nolan is much better director than he is a screenwriter. No, I'm not going to complain or put blame of the fact that it doesn't take a time to develop or built characters, in fact, this helps even more on putting the audience inside the desperate situation these characters are in. We don't know them, because they don't know each other. All they have is a hope to get back home, a hope that grows smaller by every minute, giving up to the confidence that you will not survive. The problem with Dunkirk is Nolan's difficulty on writing dialogue, even when they're so few. Did we really need Kenneth Branagh walking back and fourth on a pier explaining what's happening every time he appears? Or worst, do we need a soldier explaining to another one that they're building something for when something happens when we are literally seeing them doing exactly that? This is a problem Nolan has been dealing with most of his movies and unfortunately it's very present here again. Besides that, I would have to get into spoiler territorry and talk about the third act of the movie to expand on my personal problems with this script, but I don't want to give it away right now (yes this is based on true events and we all know they get to rescue the soldiers, still I can't talk specifics). Oh, and another big problem is within the timeline of the movie, Nolan tells this story from three different perspectives: from the mole (1 week), from Mark Rylance's boat (1 day) and from Tom Hardy's airplane (1 hour) and he intertwines them all to converge in the end. It is effective, the problem is that he can't narratively and visually convey it precisely. One good example is the fact that we see that the mole story takes place during one week (a chart tells us) but there's only one night scene, so it looks like only two days are being shown. And worst, the movie keeps repeating to us about the 400.000 stranded men on that island but it never actually shows us that, we get some wide shots from above the area and we do see a lot of people, but it never feels like that many, so when you keep repeating this information and fails to showcase it, it doesn't help your movie.
Obviously this does not affect the movie too much, it being this meticulously thought out and brilliantly executed war epic, but it does bring the quality of the narrative down a bit and I can't ignore that.