Dunkirk (12A)

No doubt most of us were taught the story of what happened in Dunkirk in May 1940 at school. But nothing can prepare you for watching the harrowing events unfold in front of your eyes on the big screen.

In the midst of World War II German forces advance into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. The troops are no more than sitting ducks, waiting to be struck down by the German air force.

Under the protection of air and ground cover the British and French troops slowly and methodically push forwards, dead-set on evacuating from the beach. But every attempt to scarper is counteracted with gunfire from the German army. No sooner are vessels loaded up with troops than they come under fire, leaving soldiers no other choice than to retreat to the beach once more and make another attempt at escape.

Refusing to accept their fate a call of action is sent out to all serviceable naval and civilian vessels that can come to their aid. Dunkirk tells the heartbreaking stories of those that attempted to leave Dunkirk, some make it while others die fighting until their last breath.

At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers are safely evacuated, but countless lives are lost along the way.

Director Christopher Nolan made a point of not telling one individual account of the events that unfolded in Dunkirk in May 1940, but instead opted to recall the moment in history through several fictional accounts.

While Dunkirk is action-packed it doesn’t glorify the onslaught that ensued, but more shows the battle for what it was, a fight for freedom, the future and life.

As for the movie’s stars, where do I start? I adore Mark Rylance, aside from the fact that he reminds me of my late Grandpa, he is extraordinarily talented. You just have to watch him alongside Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies to know that.

Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Fionn Whitehead and Aneurin Barnard give outstanding performances. A regular star of Nolan’s movies, Hardy brings his usual silent and sultry charisma to his role. Even Harry Styles, who I had my doubts about delivers a great performance.

Nolan’s combat thriller is an inspiring celebration of solidarity. It’s an intimate yet visceral and powerful history lesson that demands attention.

By Ruth Walker

★★★★★

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