• My Rating: 83% 83%

Dunkirk poses a unique challenge. I saw it in the theater about 8 months ago. I’m tapping into a bucket of memory that has more cracks and holes in it than I care to admit. Fortunately, I saw this movie with my buddy Kirk, and I not only remember the film and how I felt walking out of it, but much of the conversation we had from the lobby to the parking lot. I can understand why Dunkirk is nominated for best picture. It captures the mood and feel of a desperate situation in history as well as any movie ever has. The movie is fraught with tension and, I assume, is accurate enough, because with my knowledge of the war I was able to suspend my disbelief without conscious effort. There are two aspects that prevent me from saying it is great. There are a number of sub plots but there is no story. At no point does it follow the rules I expect, that a main character completes an arc or a journey, and is changed as a result. In a film full of actors, there really is no main character. I realize this was on purpose, but the violation of writing rules stands out and kept me from being as emotionally invested as I would have been otherwise. The second is the size and importance of the events.  The entire British army of the the time was stranded at Dunkirk. Over 300k soldiers. I never got that sense or the feel of the sheer size of what was at stake, or the danger and prowess and superiority of the mechanized army of panzers that crushed everything in it’s path – pressing upon the Brits. The enemy was “intentionally” left an unknown, and although that creates a tension in and of itself, it wasn’t the truth for those soldiers or the British command. I think the intensity of the film suffered for it. Dunkirk is very good, but missing too much to be great.

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