Dunkirk 2017 *****

It’s a rare thing for a director to make nothing but masterpieces; a film like Insomnia would be the crowing glory of most director’s careers, but for Christopher Nolan, it’s just a rehearsal. Films like Memento, The Following, Interstellar and Inception have established Nolan as a brand name that can attract an audience just on his reputation; Dunkirk shows him at the height of his powers. There are plenty of films dealing with the mechanics of war; Nolan’s summer blockbuster has the mind-set of a student film, splitting three narratives (elementally themed as air, sea and water) and sculpting in time to bring them together as the British army looks for any way home from the beaches of Dunkirk as the Germans close it. Tom Hardy’s Spitfire pilot has the biggest wow factor, even if his face is largely obscured, while Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles from One Direction wait anxiously to be rescued. Dunkirk is a challenging and original war film that reaches for the mythic rather than the practical; it’s a stunning demonstration that a big, popular movie can have brains as well as brawn.


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