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So Harry Styles Is an Actor Now: ‘Dunkirk’ Review Roundup

Harry Styles New York Dunkirk Movie Premiere
Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

Though Christopher Nolan’s newest film Dunkirk isn’t Harry Styles‘ first time gracing the silver screen, it is definitely the most momentous. The famed singer, one-fourth of One Direction and more recently a hotly-contested solo artist has taken a stab at more dramatic acting in the World War II drama. Styles plays Alex, a British soldier stationed on the beach, and though it’s not the biggest of roles, his casting has already drawn media attention — first, when it came out that Nolan cast Styles without being aware of his star status, and second, when Styles chopped his signature locks to prepare for the role.

Now that the film is released, the reviews have been pouring out. The press has spoken — despite Nolan’s purposeful underselling of his role, Styles is both a crucial and impressive member of the film’s ensemble.

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Variety: “Dunkirk’s beaches represent a special kind of hell in the film, a danger zone where the British are frightfully exposed to attacks from above — and where fate, in all its grim absurdity, forces a few of the characters to return multiple times. Just when the soldiers think they’ve escaped, the tide pulls them back in … Both [Cillian] Murphy and [Tom] Hardy have worked with Nolan before (each as Batman villains), but he uses them in character-actor mode here, treating these marquee talents as equals among a cast of newcomers (including Harry Styles, looking every bit the 1940s matinee idol).”

NY Daily News: “Styles and Hardy are an important part of this ensemble, but Rylance is the standout, sailing into war between cups of tea. And Kenneth Branagh adds steely authority as the commanding officer back at the beach, trying to save as many young men as he can.”

GQ: “Granted, Harry doesn’t have that many lines in Dunkirk, but then, nobody does in this near-silent, extremely tense war film. It very quickly becomes apparent, following a mesmerising shoot-out scene starring Fionn Whitehead … that the nearly 400,000 men stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk were too stunned to say much. Relatively speaking, then, Harry Styles plays one of the more outspoken soldiers, capably demonstrating both depth and a survivalist instinct that dangles his character right on the line between human and inhumane.”

USA Today: “There’s exquisite beauty but also utter desolation in Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography, and Nolan’s cast is a top-notch crew of English thespians … One Direction singer Styles, who makes his acting debut here, offers a surprising amount of grit and pathos.”

The Guardian: “There are no ships to rescue them and – apparently – no air cover to prevent them being picked off. Tommy is to come into contact with fellow soldier, Alex (Harry Styles, making a perfectly strong acting debut).”

Entertainment Weekly: “On the ground, the story zooms in on a young, scared baby-faced infantryman named Tommy (newcomer Fionn Whitehead), who scrambles amidst the falling bombs and chaos to stay alive until he (and any One Direction members among his comrades) can be rescued … (For the Directioners wondering, Harry Styles is also solid, seamlessly blending into the ensemble.)”

Metro.co.uk: “Styles is great in Dunkirk – perhaps that’s why he’s been coy about his future in Hollywood – and despite his star power and the instantly recognisable face, he never overpowers a scene he’s in. His character is arguably one of the more complicated and unlikable people in the film, but he also brings depth to the role and you understand, even if you don’t agree, why his character takes the actions he does.”

Telegraph.co.uk: “Dunkirk is every inch a British film, with no detectable concessions to the international market. There isn’t, for instance, the commercially fortunate presence of an American face among the cast – although there is a bright, convicted, and unexpectedly not-at-all-jarring performance from Harry Styles, formerly of the boy band One Direction, as one of the young soldiers on the beach.”

Associated Press: “These narratives intertwine and loop back and repeat from different vantage points with stunning effectiveness — never seeming redundant or dull … While, there might not be character arcs to speak of, the performances are first-rate nonetheless (even pop star Harry Styles, who might just have another viable career option).”

Indiewire: “Eventually, they’re joined by a hard-edged infantryman played with great urgency by pop star Harry Styles, Nolan jumbling unknowns together with mega-celebrities in order to stress the egalitarian nature of being left to die. Combat experience isn’t required to appreciate how everyone fights their own war, how the grunts who got mowed down on Normandy Beach had as much to live for as the generals who sent them to the slaughter.”

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