Sunday, July 30, 2017

Critical Commentary - "Dunkirk"

Probably no movie of 2017 has received the critical acclaim as has Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk", so I was anxiously looking forward to seeing this one when we took ourselves off to the Cinemark North yesterday afternoon.  In fact, I was so looking forward to it, that I actually did a little research about the actual events that took place at Dunkirk in May-June, 1940 so as to be better informed about what I was going to be seeing.  Hey, if a movie prompts you to become a bit better informed on historical events, that's a good thing.

I found "Dunkirk" to be a pretty good movie, but, sorry to say, I can't give it the full on Rave, Four Star Treatment that the professional critics are giving it.

Nolan tells the story of the Dunkirk evacuation from three points of view: (1) A British soldier trying to leave Dunkirk over the course of one week, (2) A civilian taking his private pleasure boat across the English Channel to assist in the evacuation on one day, and (3) An RAF pilot on a mission over the course of one hour.  As a plot device, this was kind of neat, if somewhat confusing until you were able to sort it out as you watched.  However, to me, and to other folks that I have talked with about this, the characters were almost secondary to Nolan showing the tremendous scope of what was taking place at Dunkirk.  In fact, the characters seemed to be so secondary, that when the final credits rolled, all the technical people involved in making the film were listed before the actors.  Ever seen that done before?

The most recognizable actors in this one, to me at least, were Kenneth Branagh as a British Navy Commander and Mark Rylance as the civilian boat operator.  Two younger actors playing soldiers in the "one week" aspect of the movie, Fionn Whitehead and Damien Bonnard, looked so much alike that I had a hard time telling them apart, and that detracted a bit from the movie for me.

"Dunkirk" is no doubt a tremendous technical bit of film making, which is why, I suppose, the critics love it so much, and it will probably win a bunch of Oscars because of it.  It also tells a story of amazing and heroic historic events, and if it makes younger generations - or not so young, like me -  aware of those events, that is a good thing.  And it most certainly depicts the horrors of war.  As a movie (as opposed to a film), however, it fell just a bit short for me.  If you want something of this genre, that tells of historic and heroic events, Steven Spielberg's  "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) is a better choice.

Two and one-half stars from The Grandstander.

1 comment:

  1. I was deeply disappointed that William Shatner did not have the cameo I was told would be in the film.

    Turns out he turned down the offer extended to him saying, "No thanks. I've already Done Kirk."