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Dunkirk  (2017)  (English)
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Dunkirk Review

Christopher Nolan's resounding portrait of an unforgettable historical episode is another supreme entry in his illustrious filmography.
4.5 out of 5 (Very Good) Dunkirk NOWRUNNING REVIEW | Vighnesh Menon
Rating: Crictiq: 4.5 - Read Review  4.5/5
Nowrunning Critics: 4.5/5 | Users: 4.5/5
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Dunkirk isn't your typical Christopher Nolan film, for better or worse. It does not have hysterical plot twists or iconic characters. What it has is an unadulterated understanding of its real-life subject matter and the ability to be a war film like no other.

The solo screenplay from the writer-director brings us to the thick of things right from the get-go. We see the unbelievable evacuation take place piece-by-piece from the three spatio-temporal points of view- the land, the sea and the air. Such a treatment has Nolan's signature non-linear framework written all over it, in a bid to relive the authenticity of the event in the most cinematic manner. But, for his celebrated standards, Dunkirk is as grounded as it gets.

At a short runtime of 107 minutes and relatively unknown actors headlining its cast, it is safe to see Dunkirk as the curious anomaly in Nolan's magnificent career. It is not so much a war film as a survival film of epic scale. Dialogues are used economically, expositions are introduced objectively and a recreation of the chaotic atmosphere takes precedence over character-dependent storytelling. There is no real protagonist in the story. The heroism comes from the collective awakening of humanity in the face of crisis to pull a miracle. The only headache is to keep track of the parallel narrative which, at times, unnecessarily overcomplicates itself and sabotages a few key emotional moments that way.

Speaking of heroes, Dunkirk boasts a formidable ensemble of experienced thespians and talented newcomers. Nolan regulars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, veterans Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance, debutants Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles, all represent the indiscriminate nature of war through different emotional positions. Hardy, who is tasked with the responsibility to express emotions mostly through his eyes and voice alone as a fighter pilot in combat, is particularly fantastic. But all the actors know their place in the story, to be the different sets of eyes for the viewers and be outstripped by the profuse nonchalance of war.

Shot purely on IMAX film format, Hoyte Van Hoytema's camera is virtually everywhere; on the sand, in water, inside spitfires and what have you. The classic cinema-verite visual form and analog effects are an effective counterpoint to the age of virtual reality and digitization we live in. The dizzying subjectivity of each and every moment of turbulent action, thanks to the visual proximity and a pulsating soundscape, is something to experience on the big screen. Hans Zimmer's cerebral score is another consistent agent of unrest and unease, this time not with hummable tracks but highly-experimental vibrations that could narrate a story on their own. The faith in blending traditional tricks with cutting-edge technology results in a technical achievement which dwarfs the war films that came before it.

Dunkirk is likely not Nolan's best film yet. But, the magnum opus is a masterpiece in which he elevates his command over visual storytelling even further. It is where he once again advocates the power of hope to prevail over all odds. It is also where the viewers won't complain not blinking for close to two hours.
Critic: Vighnesh Menon
 4.5 out of 5 (Very Good) 4.5 out of 5 (Very Good)  

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