Christopher Nolan’s first film based on a real historical event with the infamous evacuation told from three different perspectives: land, sea and air.
Unlike his previous films, which often featured individual characters with extraordinary skills and powers, this focuses on the ordinary soldiers and civilians caught up in the mayhem of that summer in 1940, conveying instead a sense of communal heroism. What the film sets out to do is to put you on that beach, being strafed by the Luftwaffe, and to put you on the civilian pleasure craft and fishing vessels who responded to a War Office appeal that saved so many lives.
It features a stellar cast of British actors, including Kenneth Branagh as a naval commander, Tom Hardy as an RAF pilot, Mark Rylance as the skipper of a small boat and Cillian Murphy as the soldier he rescues. Nolan’s shortest film since his debut feature ‘Following’, it is tightly edited and beautifully constructed, combining a real sense of authenticity with a visceral tension throughout, based on a screenplay with minimal dialogue which offers no backstory to any character.