Harry Styles shines in de­but film 'Dunkirk'

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

The path from pop to screen star­dom is strewn with the wreck­age of a thou­sand bro­ken dreams but Bri­tish singer Harry Styles may have pulled it off first time in wartime epic "Dunkirk". If ini­tial re­ac­tions to the big-bud­get wartime epic-which is re­leased this week-are any­thing to go by, Styles may be about to join a se­lect club that in­cludes David Bowie and Mark Wahlberg as rare ex­cep­tions to the rule. The One Di­rec­tion singer plays a teenage Bri­tish sol­dier des­per­ate to es­cape north­ern France in 1940 as Ger­man troops push the Al­lies into the sea.

"Harry put in an amaz­ing per­for­mance," said the film's Bri­tish di­rec­tor Christopher Nolan, the man be­hind some of the big­gest block­busters ever made. "He very much earned his seat at the ta­ble and did a won­der­ful job," the maker of "In­ter­stel­lar", "In­cep­tion" and "The Dark Knight" told AFP. Crit­ics can­vassed af­ter its red-car­pet pre­miere this week­end were also pleas­antly sur­prised by how well the pop star did, with one tweet­ing "Harry Styles can act!"

The 23-year-old singer trained with the film's stunt crew be­fore the ar­du­ous shoot on the same beaches from which 338,000 Bri­tish, French and Cana­dian troops were evac­u­ated de­spite con­stant shelling and bomb­ing raids in the nine days that be­came known as the "Mir­a­cle of Dunkirk".

Big gam­ble

Styles has screen time along­side heavy­weights Cil­lian Mur­phy, Ken­neth Branagh and Mark Ry­lance in the movie.

But co-star Jack Low­den said nei­ther he nor the film's other big screen first-timers, Bri­tish ac­tors Fionn White­head and Tom Glynn-Car­ney, looked out of place in such com­pany. "It's re­mark­able what the boys did," he told AFP. "On a set like this you could pick the wrong two or three guys and they could im­plode on you. Christopher Nolan took a gam­ble and it worked." Styles, whose de­but solo sin­gle "Sign of the Times" topped the charts in 84 coun­tries in May, ad­mit­ted that the shoot, which was ham­pered by bad weather, was tough and that he was "over­whelmed" by his first few days on set.

Un­like al­most all big Hol­ly­wood direc­tors, Nolan es­chews spe­cial ef­fects. He in­sisted on us­ing the ac­tual lo­ca­tions where the events took place, real war­ships and World War II air­craft and many of the orig­i­nal "lit­tle boats" that brought the sol­diers safely to Eng­land. Nor did he stop film­ing when gales blasted the French coast, tear­ing lumps off an his­toric jetty he had had re­built. "The whole film was a bit of a chal­lenge. We were not work­ing in nor­mal film set con­di­tions," Styles told AFP be­fore its pre­miere in Dunkirk on Sun­day. "Chris is very vis­ceral in the way he works, which can be in­tense at times. It was noth­ing of course com­pared to the real story... but yeah it was tough."

Who's Harry Styles?

Styles's char­ac­ter Alex is one of a group of young sol­diers whose or­deal on the beaches is fol­lowed over a week in the film. "Alex has this edge to him. He comes off a lit­tle more hard­ened than the other guys. Alex likes the idea of be­ing the tough guy, but he's also re­ally scared," he said. "It is im­pos­si­ble to know how you would have re­acted (in that sit­u­a­tion). And luck­ily we haven't had to.

"Grow­ing up in Eng­land you learn a lit­tle bit about Dunkirk in school. But be­cause it is not our finest mo­ment it is of­ten washed over and told quite quickly," Styles added. "It is this fairy­tale story of peo­ple who were on the beach and then were picked up and taken home" by the plucky lit­tle boats. Nolan, 46, who made his name with "Me­mento" star­ring Guy Pearce in 2000, ad­mit­ted that he didn't re­ally know who Styles was be­fore he be­gan cast­ing for the film.

"My kids talked about him, but I don't think I was that aware of how fa­mous Harry was. "We were look­ing at thou­sands and thou­sands of young men in open cast­ing calls" when Harry put him­self for­ward, he said. "We were de­ter­mined to cast fresh faces-un­knowns iron­i­cally... (but) Harry very much earned his seat at the ta­ble." — AFP

(From left) Bri­tish ac­tor Tom Glynn-Car­ney, Bri­tish singer, song­writer and ac­tor Harry Styles, Bri­tish film pro­ducer Emma Thomas, Bri­tish-Amer­i­can film di­rec­tor Christopher Nolan, Bri­tish ac­tor Jack Low­den, Bri­tish ac­tor Fionn White­head pose on July 16, 2017, dur­ing a photo-call at the cinema Ocine in Dunkirk, for the pre­mier of the movie "Dunkirk". — AFP photos

(From left) Bri­tish ac­tor Tom Glynn-Car­ney, Bri­tish singer, song­writer and ac­tor Harry Styles, Bri­tish ac­tor Jack Low­den and Bri­tish ac­tor Fionn White­head pose dur­ing a photo-call at the cinema Ocine in Dunkirk, for the pre­mier of the movie "Dunkirk".

Bri­tish singer, song­writer and ac­tor Harry Styles poses dur­ing a photo-call.

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