Dunkirk is a strange film, as much about the channel of water between two countries as the aforementioned nations at war. I read somewhere that director Chris Nolan sailed the English Channel in his youth and the experience was formative to him. This is evident, the film's photography sometimes shows the war as pinpricks on the larger canvass of the sea and the sky. As war films go, Dunkirk encompasses a sense of solitude, even as four hundred thousand British soldiers mass upon the Dunkirk beach waiting for salvation. The enemy, we barely see at all, who they are is not the point, this is a film about Us, not Them.
Of the characters, Tom Hardy steals the film, the Spitfire pilot who soars from one successful dogfight to the next in an ethereal, oceanic setting; it could be the Pacific he's inhabiting, the film in fact filmed partly off the coast of the Netherlands and Universal Studios' Falls Lake. Hardy's final scene of heroic solitude is the film's finest moment.The rest of the movie, I can't yet fathom what I feel. I wondered at times if I was bored, but other times the boredom made sense, conjuring timeless feelings of what it is to fly across an emerald surface stretching to the horizon, or standing on a beach, waiting to be rescued, in a war where you're likely to die later anyway. On this giant canvas, the people come and go, their tragedies or triumphs brief or unknown, and then trains roll into stations while newspapers unfurl a story referencing some but not others.