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Christopher Nolan’s mesmerizing masterpiece on the vastness of vulnerability; war’s anonymous selection of who shall live and perish; regardless of rank, the process is random, emotionless, arbitrary. Nolan’s brilliant film focuses on a simple, far from extraordinary soldier, whose fate is in the hands of a higher power; “Tommy” (Finn Whitehead) runs through the streets of Dunkirk, searching for the beach of evacuation; his ubiquitous presence is the thread of cohesiveness that carries the wrenching scenario of the Battle and evacuation of Dunkirk between May 26-June 4th, 1940.

The pulsating action between aerial and water carnage; the relentless, tension-infused musical score by Hans Zimmer, massive annihilation intentionally transcend the acting; each role is a metaphor for courage, cowardliness, fate, randomness, tenacity; we know nothing about these men (many nameless); war as transformed them, their greater and lesser instincts are brought to the fore: Cillian Murphy, as a shell-shocked, pathetic survivor, his courage dissipated with his rescue; Mark Rylance as one of the many men who, defenseless, went to Dunkirk to save a multitude; Kenneth Branaugh as “Colonel Bolton”, symbolizing fortitude and hope despite overpowering odds; Tom Hardy, is a British pilot, whose marksmanship saves the day; singer/heartthrob Harry Styles proves that he more than just a pretty face, as a fierce and gutsy soldier, determined not to die.


There’s a profundity that permeates “Dunkirk”; Nolan’s genius immerses, incorporates the viewer in the experience; the core of its greatness lies in one word, spoken by a young man on a rescue boat, to a damaged soldier; “Yes”, saved and redeemed the last shred of dignity and possibly the future of this, forever impaired man.






  1. it was an extraordinary film—agreed!!!!

  2. Thanks for that great review Penelope. It marked a rare occasion for me to have seen a film on the same day you reviewed it. I couldn’t agree more with your eloquent appraisal. Of all the wonderful elements that contribute to that masterful production, I was especially impressed with the Hans Zimmer score. However, higher praise and kudos for your stunning insight to that powerful exchange on the boat. Thanks to you, that “Yes” now registers with me as visceral moment in the story of that remarkable event.

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