So I wrote about this earlier: Christopher Nolan making a WWII film. Do we really need another one of these?
Anyway, I went to see it anyway. The reviews have been very good and Nolan is probably the surest bet in Hollywood.
Well, long story short……….I didn’t like it. First time I can say that about a Nolan film.
I won’t give you an extensive review of what it is about, but here is the short of it.
It’s about Dunkirk.
OK, the more extended review…..
There are three major storylines in this:
A French guy trying to sneak on an English evacuation ship that takes place over the course of 1 week.
A well-to-do Englishman who takes his son and friend to the shores of Dunkirk to chip in, do their part, and save some people in the water. This one takes place over 1 day.
Some RAF guy shooting down some Krauts in the air over the course on 1 hour.
As you can expect, all three of these storylines converge at the end, despite the uneven timeline.
So here is my overall take: I feel this is just a series of scenes and events pasted together without any cohesion or sense of purpose. Some of the scenes were intense; boats flooding, dog fights in the air, etc. Some of the scenes were boring. Regardless, I feel like this was a Frankenstein of a film and nothing of substance held these stories together other than they were all happening around Dunkirk.
Due to the fact these stories were told over the course of different time increments, it was very hard to follow who and where we were in the film. There was no real anchor that let us know at what time or where we are relative to the other events. It also didn’t help that all the sound was garbled (I swear they needed subtitles, no one spoke clearly and everything was muffled) and all the actors looked the same. Who was who in this thing? I swear I don’t remember one character’s name in the entire film. Maybe because it was not a character driven story, maybe because they all looked like pale English blokes, maybe because there was zero character development and I just didn’t care. Regardless, half the time I was trying to figure out who and where things were in this tangled web of a film, and didn’t enjoy the puzzle-solving process. Oh yeah, the music was dull and overplayed; added nothing to the film and actually distracted from things many times. Thank Hans!!
I know the defenders of this film will say the complexity of the time tables was expertly done and really made you think as a viewer. I also get that the idea of time passage during tense times feels non-linear; something this movie was trying to depict. And I also know Nolan loves to play with time, note Memento and Interstellar. But in those movies, the non-linear time sequences was vital to the actual story. Wait, not just vital. That actually was the root of the story. But here, it added nothing but confusion. It was like Nolan wanted to make a historical film and add his clever little ideas to it and make it not straight forward. But what you end up with is a mess.
Finally, is there a culture more self-congratulatory than the British? The entire finale was just a series of English people patting themselves on the back and basically thanking themselves for being such courageous and wonderful people. Thanks for reminding us of this, Nolan. Now just try to convince India of the same thing.
In sum, I was quite disappointed. Yes, it had its bright moments and many intense scenes, also the intertwining of the stories was well crafted. But to me, stripped down to its core, this film is just another WWII film. And do we really need another one of those?