Steve Yurovsky’s review published on Letterboxd:
Roger Ebert wrote in his review of Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped that his plots “are not about whether they succeed, but how they endure.”
In Dunkirk, Nolan presents us with a Bressonian blockbuster. Using Bresson’s minimalistic approach to character, he allows us to project ourselves onto these soldiers as they struggle to stay alive.
This approach, while purposeful, is also extremely risky as it leaves room for disinvestment and failed emotional arcs. Bresson was able to deftly balance his characters thanks to his disavowal of setpieces, something Nolan is unable to avoid. Despite this, the sheer bravado with which Nolan handles some of these sequences is so strong, you can’t help but fall into his lull, even as it suffers from a lack of investment.