A response to Marie Claire’s review of Dunkirk by Mehera Bonner. Original can be found here but for easier reading, Bonner’s words are in quotations below followed by my response in bold.
“That movie was fucking bomb.”
That was one reaction I overheard after watching Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s new directorial gift to men, who are currently spending their time fervently ranking his movies, arguing about said rankings, and—presumably—wearing fedoras completely un-ironically. Or even worse, ironically.
*Tips fedora* M’hera.
One sentence in and we know misandry will be the backbone of Mehera’s review of Dunkirk, in which she will fervently rank and argue about rankings. Yes you guessed it: the imaginary struggles of queer POCs are way more important to Bonner than the actual men who died or were willing to die for the west.
The thing is, I just don’t think Dunkirk is a very good movie—if your definition of the word movie is “moving images held together by a plot.” Like, yes: Dunkirk is very well-made. I felt like I was going to vomit during it, because that’s how intense it was. And if your interests include riding a visual roller coaster called war, you will love it.
Like, OMG. War is, like, so intense.
But if you’re a fan of films with plots, Dunkirk doesn’t play that game. It’s as if Christopher Nolan (sorry, “Nolan”) plucked out the war scene from a script, and was like “let’s just make this part extra long and call it a movie, lol.”
Q: Why do feminists all write like over-excited teenage girls?
A: They’re emotionally stunted and incapable of empathy, so in a sense they are all over-excited teenage girls.
The film, in case you aren’t already aware due to the endless critical musings devoted to it, is about the real life battle of Dunkirk—where British and Allied troops were rescued by civilian boats and evacuated. It’s a story worthy of being told and re-told, and I really enjoy war movies in general, but still—actual stuff needs to happen.
So she like totally loves war movies.
Stuff other than scenes of men burning in oil-covered water, ships sinking, and bodies drowning. If you want to argue that the non-stop violent intensity of the film was the point, and that we should feel fully immersed in the war like we’re living it ourselves—I present Harry Styles.
So far we know “stuff needs to happen” and Bonner acknowledges the theatrical necessity of the violence. I know this is boring. It gets better – she’s just got more gas than a Clydesdale. Keep reading.
The One Direction band member did a surprisingly impressive job in what turned out to be a pretty major role, but I refuse to believe it’s possible for any viewer with even a semblance of pop-culture knowledge not see him and immediately go “OMG, it’s Harry Styles.” Much like Ed Sheeran’s cameo in Game of Thrones, having a pop star casually show up in a film will inevitably remove the audience from the narrative and ground them back in reality. Harry Styles is a constant reminder to the viewer that the movie isn’t real, while the entire excuse for the film’s intense and admittedly-impressive cinematography is to convince the viewer that they’re right there in it. You can’t have your Harry Styles cake and eat it too.
The female mind revealed. What man would be distracted by the presence of Harry Styles? Could you even have named Styles in a line-up before now?
But my main issue with Dunkirk is that it’s so clearly designed for men to man-out over.
So the presence of Harry Styles distracts you (presumably because he makes your no-no place tingle), but the movie is “designed” (whatever that means in this context) for “men to man-out over”? If she means to consider, deeply and spiritually, what it might be like to be one of 400,000 men who went to battle in 1940 so that brain-dead Brooklynites might one day make a living writing trash columns about baby bumps and breakups – well perhaps Dunkirk is more depressing than you ever could have imagined.
And look, it’s not like I need every movie to have “strong female leads.”
How generous of you, Bonner.
Wonder Woman can probably tide me over for at least a year, and I understand that this war was dominated by brave male soldiers. I get that.
She just compared Wonder Woman to Dunkirk? Imagine being so pathetic you need fictional movie characters to derive any sense of place in the world as a woman. I suppose if you don’t get it from your relationship with men (and the promise and reward of family that includes) you have to get it somewhere. No wonder liberal women are so miserable and insufferable.
“So yeah it’s about the soldiers blah blah blah let’s talk about me and my sense of self-worth because being a female is the only thing I have so my worldview can’t even accommodate historical reality let alone a present day when men might actually matter”.
But the packaging of the film, the general vibe, and the tenor of the people applauding it just screams “men-only”—and specifically seems to cater to a certain type of very pretentious man who would love nothing more than to explain to me why I’m wrong about not liking it.
Bonner predicts the inevitable male objection to her frivolity. She knows she’s wrong. She knows we’ll tell her so. But she doesn’t have the self-insight to know why. She’s already decided she’s correct.
If this movie were a dating profile pic, it would be a swole guy at the gym who also goes to Harvard. If it was a drink it would be Stumptown coffee. If it was one of your friends, it would be the one who starts his sentences with “I get what you’re saying, but…”
No Bonner. We don’t “get what you’re saying”. Your mental instability is showing. We hate you, the embodiment of western decadence and entitlement, and everything you stand for. We hate the establishment you profit from even as you pretend to be its victim. You decry pretentiousness with a pretentious reference to overpriced Portland coffee. FFS.
I guess congratulations are in order for Nolan managing to unite high-brow male critics and very annoying people on Twitter under a common bromance, but to me, Dunkirk felt like an excuse for men to celebrate maleness—which apparently they don’t get to do enough. Fine, great, go forth, but if Nolan’s entire purpose is breaking the established war movie mold and doing something different—why not make a movie about women in World War II?
I only hope you read this and feel as worthless to society as you really are.
Or—because I know that will illicit cries of “ugh, not everything has to be about feminism, ugh!”—how about any other marginalized group?
YEAH! WHY ISN’T DUNKIRK ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT QUEER TRANNIES OF COLOR!?!
These stories shouldn’t be relegated to indie films and Oscar season.
Notice how the likes of this writer always “know” how the world should be?
It’s up to giant powerhouse directors like Nolan to tell them, which is why Dunkirk feels so basic.
Historical accuracy is “basic”. Gotcha.
It’s a summer war movie. It’ll make you fear for the future and pray that we never fight again. You might get kind of sick. If you’re like me, a random man will come up to you after and explain why you’re wrong for disliking it. But this war movie isn’t special. At the end of the day, it’s like all the rest of them.
I hope your family line vanishes, Bonner. I hope the thousands of years of struggle for life that your ancestors endured – the painful child births, the fighting and bloodshed, the back-breaking toil, the loneliness and love and longing – all ends with you, childless and alone and broke in a shitty Brooklyn sharehouse looking over your life’s work wondering, “why?”