Christopher Nolan is a director who doesn't really do things by halves, so when it was announced that his latest film would be a war film, the levels of anticipation I had for it went through the roof. He's directed some of my favourite films so to see Nolan make a war film for the first time, particularly about something like Dunkirk, was always going to be one of my most anticipated films of the year.

As 400,000 men wait to be evacuated from Dunkirk beach with the enemy closing in, Dunkirk follows the efforts of men on land, at sea and in the air who fought so bravely to make it possible for them to return home to Britain.
Desperation runs rife during war and Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk doesn't waste any of its runtime is depicting just how desperate a situation it was as men waited to be taken home, not knowing when the enemy would strike next. Nolan's boldest decision in Dunkirk is to not show one German soldier throughout and it really adds to the film's intensity, the fear of the men trapped on the beach fully embedding itself in the audience's mind as a result.

The narrative choice was one that surprised me but, while it took me a few minutes to work out exactly how it was panning out, it's a choice that makes Dunkirk unlike any war film I've ever seen. The three narrative threads the film follows take place over different time periods however, Nolan ensures they come together rather magnificently, intercutting between each narrative seamlessly thanks to Lee Smith's sharp editing.
Nolan has formed some incredible collaborative partnerships throughout his career, most notably with Hans Zimmer who has scored a number of his films. Zimmer really feels as if he tries to outdo his previous works each and every time, which is only a good thing for us, and his work on Dunkirk is up there with his finest to date. The inclusion of the ticking clock superbly fitting in with the theme of time and emphasising the desperation of the situation.

A relatively shorter collaborative partnership in comparison is that between Nolan cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who first worked with Nolan on Interstellar. Just like Interstellar, van Hoytema's breathtaking visuals fit with Nolan's narrative superbly well, accentuating the scale of the operation at Dunkirk even in such a close-knit narrative.

Coming to the performances, Nolan's Dunkirk features an ensemble cast who all impress despite having to work with very little character development. People may find it hard to connect with the film as a result however, I felt for these characters as much as I have in films with well-rounded characters so the lack of character development didn't really hinder my experience. It was a real pleasure to watch actors like Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh bring their usual qualities to a film but it was even better to see acting newcomers in Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles, yes Harry Styles, make their mark in Nolan's film.

Myself and other film fans may sound like broken records when describing each new Nolan film as a masterpiece however, when the man keeps on making the films he does, it's certainly justified. More so because Dunkirk is exactly that, a masterpiece.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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