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‘Dunkirk’ is courageous but confounding

 

Last updated 8/14/2017 at Noon



Ian Murdock

Special to the Village News

The greatly hyped World War II film, “Dunkirk,” hit theaters last weekend. Containing a stellar cast including, among others, Cilion Murphy, Thomas Hardy and Martin Rylance, the story delivers a heroic, heartfelt and harrowing tale of what proved to be a critically pivotal chapter of the war.

The acting performances by the above noted names were solid, with Rylance’s subtle, yet moving, portrayal being the clear highlight.

While the core story details the gutsy and sad elements of this war, unfortunately, the presentation and delivery of the film were fairly flawed, making it not only hard to follow, but enjoy.

The story jumped around so erratically and quickly for much of the film that missing just a couple of words of dialogue or a split second of a scene caused significant confusion for the viewer, making it challenging to simply determine who was who and what role they played.

Part of this confusion was due to the way the film was shot – with many dark settings as well as unclear water scenes. Though a viewer wants a realistic portrayal of a story, spending much of the film struggling to piece together the characters and how they were connected leads to – at least for me – a very frustrating experience, and it certainly reduces my overall acclaim of any film.

Lack of character interaction and depth was another shortcoming of the writer and director, and thus this film. In fact, the most memorable parts of the film in my opinion, which revolved around Martin Rylance and his son, did not garner near enough attention.

Sporadic Hollywood moments, seemingly implausible ones, were also spread throughout the film, further diminishing the credibility of the story. Ultimately, the final 30 minutes of the film were the best in my opinion, but they were not enough sadly to save it.

Thus far, it seems that the media hype and major Hollywood reviews of this film differ significantly from my viewpoint. This is no surprise to me, as similar euphoria surrounded such disappointing films as “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.”

While “Dunkirk” may be worth seeing for its history and for the unparalleled courage it illustrates, it certainly falls far short of what would qualify as one of the all-time, great films. It is difficult to be emotionally engaged with a film when you are having trouble discerning what is going on. I recommend “Fury,” if you want a World War II film that belongs in the epic category.

The film wasn’t too long, nor graphically violent, which was a real plus considering it was a war story, but other than that

 

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