Movie Thoughts – Dunkirk
When The Sopranos premiered in 1999, I was 11 years old. It wasn't the most ideal subject matter for an 11 year old, but as the years went by it became impossible to not check this show out. Like most people, I was drawn to Tony Soprano, a character brought to life by the late James Gandolfini. Gandolfini did a lot of things really well, but one of the things I remember about that character is the way he used facial expressions to convey key emotions. You could tell exactly how Tony was feeling based on his eyes alone. He conveyed fury, angst and despair all with a single glance.
Not many actors can do that, but Tom Hardy is certainly one of them. For the second time in a Christopher Nolan movie Hardy's face is almost fully concealed, but he's so great at using his eyes to convey emotion that it doesn't matter. You don't go into a movie expecting to have such an intimate relationship with an actor's eyes throughout a two hour movie, but it's impossible to look anywhere else on screen when Hardy's character shows up. It's an extremely restrictive role (he's in a fighter plane cockpit for every scene but one) with minimal dialogue, but Hardy nails it. He's only 1/3 of the plot in Nolan's Dunkirk, but his fighter pilot character is intertwined with the other two perspectives perfectly. There's a lot more to love in Dunkirk, but Hardy was my favorite part. The movie was a perfect mix of Nolan's storytelling style and a war movie. If you're a fan of either (or both) you should check it out, preferably in Imax.
Complex stories in film are my jam. In fact, one my favorite parts of seeing a film is piecing the story together. I can remember seeing Nolan's 2000 masterpiece, 'Memento', and loving how I had to actively bring the story together as I watched. It's almost a sport. Numbers flying around in my head like Alan playing blackjack in 'The Hangover.' Providing the audience with a complex story is a tell-tale sign of someone who has mastered the craft of filmmaking, which Nolan continues to prove in 'Dunkirk.'
The story is split into three aspects: Air, Sea and The Mole. Each aspect of this film is introduced with a title card with a time frame directly below it. All three have different timeframes which are meant to overlap with each other. Somehow, Nolan not only uses individual scenes to build tension, but he uses the introduction of plot points within the three aspects to build tension for the others. It's something I wish I could better describe in words, but if you saw the film you'll get it.
Bravo, Christopher Nolan.