What the Critics Are Saying About Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk'
The reviews are in on the divisive director's new World War II epic, and the general feeling is that this film could be his best.

Sky News, 18 July 2017
By Duarte Garrido

Three years on from the release of his most divisive film, Christopher Nolan has finally won unanimous praise.

Critics all seem to be in agreement on 'Dunkirk', which has received four and five star reviews and been hailed as the director's "best film so far".

The film, which stars Sir Mark Rylance, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, as well as One Direction star Harry Styles, recounts the horrific World War II battle, where Allied soldiers found themselves surrounded by German troops.

Nolan's previous films all gained some critical praise, with his breakthrough 'Memento' and the 'Dark Knight Trilogy' being well received - but even these had mixed reviews.

His last venture, 2014 sci-fi 'Interstellar', was savaged by most critics and criticised for its lack of scientific accuracy.

With 'Dunkirk', though, the early reviews are positive - with a near-perfect score of 95% on ratings website Rotten Tomatoes after 28 were published on Monday.

"It is very different to his previous feature, the bafflingly overhyped sci-fi convolution 'Interstellar'," wrote The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw.

"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."

"It is Nolan's best film so far."

"No filmmaker is as fascinated by time as Nolan, or as deft at playing with it, and here he applies the temporal tricksiness he pioneered with 'Inception', intercutting three timelines that move at different speeds," wrote Empire's Nick De Semlyen.

"Another point of differentiation: there's little emphasis on derring-do. Rather than heroics, Nolan is concerned with what men can endure."

"Take away the film's prismatic structure and this could be a classic war picture for the likes of Lee Marvin or John Wayne," wrote Variety's Peter Debruge.

"And yet, there's no question that the star here is Nolan himself, whose attention-grabbing approach alternates among three strands, chronological but not concurrent, while withholding until quite late the intricate way they all fit together."

Roger Ebert's Matt Zoller Seitz falls short of giving 'Dunkirk' the website's full star rating, but calls it "lean and ambitious, unsentimental and bombastic".

"I was more on-the-fence about the movie's intricate narrative construction, but once the film's visceral impact had faded, it was there that my mind wandered. Like most of Nolan's films, 'Dunkirk' is obsessed by the relative perception of time," he added.

"This is a movie of vision and integrity. It deserves to be seen and argued about. They don't make them like this anymore. Never did, really."

Dunkirk opens in UK cinemas on 21 July.

Back to Dunkirk page | Back to Articles Listing | Back to the Compendium