Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan reveals pop star Harry Styles is not prominently featured in the film’s trailers so marketing did not mislead fans. Styles, best known for his time in the band One Direction, is making his acting debut in this month’s World War II thriller. Though his casting came as a surprise to cinephiles, Nolan has said he chose Styles for the potential he showed, not because of his fame. On the press tour, the filmmaker compared it to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight – a hiring that raised some eyebrows when first announced, but later became one of this generation’s defining performances.
Early reactions to Dunkirk indicate Styles delivers a strong turn, so it sounds like all the worrying was for naught. What some may find odd, however, is that the singer’s recognizable face was never heavily highlighted in various promotional materials. This was a conscious choice made by the creative team so Styles’ admirers were not rubbed the wrong way when they saw he had a relatively small role in the final product.
During an interview with EW, Nolan discussed the ensemble nature of Dunkirk and what Styles brought to the picture. The outlet also had a new image of the two working together on location, which you can see below:
“We’re not trying to oversell Harry in the movie for the specific reason that it’s an ensemble. We don’t want people who are huge fans of his being disappointed that he’s not in it enough… I think what Harry does is extremely subtle because it’s very real. It’s not cartoonish. It’s not obvious. He really taps into the reality of the situation. It’s a subtle performance. It almost risks being missed because what it’s actually doing. I think it’s a great character for him, and I think he did an incredible job.”
Dunkirk is shaping up to be a very different kind of film from Nolan. Many of his previous efforts have largely revolved around one main protagonist and their obsession with a particular goal (Inception‘s Cobb and wanting to get back to his children). In contrast, Dunkirk does not have a singular focus; it balances its economic running time across three storylines – the air, the land, and the water. EW notes that each section is “anchored” by a key performance, but as a whole, Dunkirk is about the overall rescue mission instead of one person’s journey. This structure aims to give the film a unique feel as audiences follow the action.
Given the very positive responses to Dunkirk on social media, it seems as if Nolan made all the right calls, delivering another visceral and epic moviegoing experience. After a rough stretch, summer 2017 is looking up with the likes of Baby Driver, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and War for the Planet of the Apes all earning great reviews. As many hoped, the latest offering from Nolan – one of this era’s top directors – will join the ranks of high-quality films released over the past few weeks, giving viewers another stellar option to check out on the biggest of screens.
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