Dunkirk – Film Review

Rating : 3 / 5 stars

What’s it about?

Dunkirk is a war survival drama directed by Christopher Nolan starring Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy among others.

The film documents the evacuation attempts by the British and French soldiers at the coast of Dunkirk during the second World War. With Germany setting its eyes on Britain next, it was imperative that the British soldiers be evacuated and brought back home to regroup for battle. However, all attempts at evacuation were being thwarted by German fighter jets and submarines. Upon hearing this news, brave British civilians used their own private boats to cross the English channel in order to help with the evacuation. How both, the soldiers and the civilians, deal with the dangers awaiting them and try to survive, is what the film is about.

What’s Good?

The film places the viewer right in the middle of the action and allows us to feel the urgency of the situation. The desperation of the soldiers to leave Dunkirk is captured well. The film is very realistic in its depiction of war and how it affects the soul of men on the losing side. Action scenes are very realistic, especially the aerial dog fights, which need to be seen in the biggest screen possible for maximum enjoyment! The film also benefits from a smaller runtime as compared to Nolan’s previous work as anything more would have made the film drag on.

Cinematography, like in all previous Nolan films, is breathtaking. The way the aerial dogfights in particular has been shot will leave the viewer breathless. Special mention must be made of the background score of the film. Hans Zimmer has given one of the best scores for a film in recent memory. It accentuates all the scenes and brings a sense of tension and urgency to the proceedings.

What’s Not?

The film adopts a non linear structure for its screenplay and follows three different stories over three different time periods. This works well most of the time but during the third act when these narratives overlap events are repeated from different perspectives and can be a little confusing to the casual viewer. Also, because of the near documentary style of film making with almost non existent dialogues, the film does not involve the viewer as much as one would hope. Nolan tries to extract as much drama from the events at Dunkirk, but the casual viewer might feel a little underwhelmed at the end of the film as there is not much “war” in this war film.


This film does not spend time developing any particular character but focuses on the event in general. Fionn Whitehead’s Tommy is the closest we get to following a characters journey and he does a good job. Tom Hardy has his face covered for almost all his scenes and so we do not get any inkling of his performance. Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance are good in the few scenes they are in. Rest of the cast is good in their respective roles.

Final Word

This film is not among Nolan’s best work, but is definitely a one time watch for cinema lovers.


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