I've always had a love-hate relationship with the films of Christopher Nolan. On one hand, they're brilliantly put together: gorgeously shot, with wallowing sound design, thorough writing, apt performances, and superlative vision. On the other hand, there's always too many storylines in the narrative, fighting for time and attention. They've always felt like montages and not movies, with the dialogue a tad bit expository, the editing aimed at thrills, and the moments too short to deliver soul. As a blockbuster filmmaker, he is unmatched. As a pure propeller of cinema, I'd others to choose over him. I'd like to believe, somewhere along the making of "The Dark Knight Rises", he had listened to this invisible criticism. The much maligned shot of Matthew McConaughey staring at the video of his grown up daughter while bursting out in tears was for me, proof of this. I think "Dunkirk" is the most soulful film he has ever made.
Great cinema is often not about the content, but what is made of the content. For starters, Nolan does resort to his usual technique of a non-linear narrative. But there is convergence and it works. Three characters anchor the three juxtaposed timelines that culminate in one point of deliverance, of survival, of duty and responsibility. We are taken up close to these characters and are egged to be with them, to feel what they go through, to experience their moments. It doesn't matter where the bullets, the bombs, and the chaos come from. What matters is that it is all there. To be shell shocked by. Maybe it is the advantage offered by having just three narratives, but Nolan relaxes his filmmaking to stay longer with the frames, spending more time with each of these characters. In the process, he finds an unsaid soul to these characters that he just doesn't have time for in his previous films.
Atlantic City says so much about two people in a relationship, without saying too much.
A comedy that is fun, while being just good cinema in the first place.