I am a pretty big Christopher Nolan fan; I've always liked how brilliantly he can manipulate his audience. Films like The Dark Knight, Inception, and the Prestige are some of my personal favs with their open-endedness and profundity. He seems to definitely take notes from Kubrick, so I thought Dunkirk would be pretty similar to Full Metal Jacket or even Apocalypse Now in that it would explore the impact of war on man, but Dunkirk didn't do that at all--it was quite the opposite, actually.
In my intro to film class last semester, my professor gave a lecture on post-modernism; the lecture was basically a very passionate, hour-and-a-half rant about how post-modern films lack depth and emotion. Ostensibly, my teacher favors classic and modern era films over post-modern films. When the credits rolled on Dunkirk my first thought was, "Professor Casper would've hated this film." I was able to notice all of Casper's least favorite aspects of post-modernism in Dunkirk.
The stakes were high and the suspense was heart-wrenching, but I wasn't emotionally attached to anyone. Part of the reason I didn't care about any of the characters is because there were simply too many, but also because Dunkirk was about the event, not the people that endured it. The configuration of the film utilized different-place-same-time and different-place-different-time cuts to build maximum suspense, anxiety, and fear, but none of that fear or anxiety was grounded by a genuine love for a protagonist. It made the deaths less impactful and nearly insignificant.
All of that being said, I did not hate Dunkirk. Finding flaws in a film doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it. Instead, I thought it was a beautiful, incredibly well-crafted film about the reality, immensity, and unromantic violence of war. The acting was brilliant, by everyone (including Harry Styles), but it was more reactionary acting--actors reacting to their immediate physical surroundings. Tom Hardy was the only one to really display complex emotions beyond fear and he only had half his face showing!
My heart rate was probably at around 180 bpm for the film's entirety, so definitely go see this if you're into suspense thrillers, war movies, or Christopher Nolan. If you're a directioner who is only seeing it for Harry, you probably won't like it because you're 12 and it's too gruesome for you.
Check out Dunkirk in theaters EVERYWHERE now!