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Dunkirk is phenomenal, a gripping war epic from Christopher Nolan that is both thrilling in a untraditional sense and throughly emotional, despite not connecting to any one particular character. Nolan’s film isn’t about characters, but the event itself, and the film’s multiple storylines combine together to create a masterful combination of suspense and triumph. The film tells the true story of the evacuation of Dunkirk during the height of World War II, where civilian boats helped to rescue nearly 30,000 British soldiers from France.

There are moments of raw emotion, for sure, such as a PTSD stricken soldier’s fear of returning to conflict, a British General’s convicted respect towards his French allies, or the triumph of seeing civilian ships on the shores of Dunkirk. The film’s stellar cast are all here to be part of this epic tale, and while there are some strong characters, particularly Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance, it never turns into a heroic journey for one person. This is the film’s message; war is consisted of countless stories, both tragic and triumphant, and sometimes, survival is the best victory.

Dunkirk is both a window into the horrors of World War II and a thoroughly entrancing depiction of an event with intimate detail. Few films are able to demand attention from beginning to end, and Nolan’s film keeps the audience on the edge of their seat for every frame, and ends with a gorgeous montage wrapping up the lives of its characters. Dunkirk is thrilling, thought provoking, and absolutely one of the best films of the year. Grade: A+