Epic reviews for 'First slam-dunk Oscar contender' Dunkirk

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Dunkirk… sterling reviews for Christopher Nolan’s new war epic – Credit: Warner Bros

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ is being called the first sure-fire Oscar contender of the year, in a rash of blisteringly good reviews.

The ‘Inception’ and ‘Batman’ helmsman has recreated the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’ with pin-sharp accuracy, pioneering camera techniques and solid drama from players including Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh.

‘Operation Dynamo’ was a pivotal moment in World War II, with British, French, Belgian, and Canadian troops cut off by the German army in May and June of 1940.

Hundreds of thousands of troops were eventually saved despite sustained attacks from the Luftwaffe.

(Credit: Warner Bros)

And as predicted by early rumblings on social media, Nolan’s telling of the story is being hailed as a triumph.

In a full five-star notice, Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph writes: “Christopher Nolan’s astonishing new film, a retelling of the Allied evacuation of occupied France in 1940, is a work of heart-hammering intensity and grandeur that demands to be seen on the best and biggest screen within reach.”

Kristopher Tapley in Variety reckons it’s the first slam-dunk Oscar contender of 2017′.

In another five-star review, Jeremy Aspinall in the Radio Times writes: Dunkirk the event may have been ‘a colossal military disaster’ according to Churchill, but Dunkirk the movie is a glorious, breathtakingly vivid triumph from a director at the top of his game.”

(Credit: Warner Bros)

With the action taking centre stage, some have found the lack of central characters a slight distraction, but not enough to detract from an overall stamp of approval.

“This is a film without heroes or a straightforward story,” writes Dave Calhoun in Time Out. “The action is the attraction. If that means some of the film feels a little distant and chilly, it’s in the admirable service of avoiding simplistic drama.”

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian – also pulling out his fifth star – calls it Nolan’s ‘best film so far’ and ‘a visceral piece of film-making’.

“This is a powerful, superbly crafted film with a story to tell, avoiding war porn in favour of something desolate and apocalyptic, a beachscape of shame, littered with soldiers zombified with defeat, a grimly male world with hardly any women on screen,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter calls the films ‘an impressionist masterpiece’.

“Although the film is deeply moving at unexpected moments, it’s not due to any manufactured sentimentality or false heroics,” he writes. “Bursts of emotion here explode like depth charges, at times and for reasons that will no doubt vary from viewer to viewer. There’s never a sense of Nolan — unlike, say Spielberg — manipulating the drama in order to play the viewer’s heartstrings. Nor is there anything resembling a John Williams score to stir the emotional pot.”

It’s out across the UK on July 21.

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