Starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey, Jr., Florence Pugh, Benny Safdie, Michael Angarano, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck with Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh
In Christopher Nolan’s captivating film “Oppenheimer,” the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist behind the atomic bomb, unfolds in a thought-provoking and visually stunning manner. It transcends the boundaries of a traditional biopic, delving into the complexities of Oppenheimer’s life, his internal struggles, and the far-reaching consequences of his fateful decisions.
Cillian Murphy delivers a remarkable performance, portraying Oppenheimer as a driven yet conflicted figure. Oscar winner Matt Damon portrays General Leslie Groves Jr. as director of the Manhattan Project. Robert Downey, Jr. gives his best performance since “Chaplin” as Lewis Strauss, a founding commissioner of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The movie employs non-linear storytelling, weaving together courtrooms, bedrooms, lab rooms, and multiple timelines, adding depth and complexity to the narrative that beckons repeated viewings for full appreciation.
Nolan filmed “Oppenheimer” using a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format film, including, for the first time, sections in IMAX analog black and white. His use of close-ups of human faces over the expected atomic bomb explosion was a standout choice. Through the powerful close-ups of Oppenheimer, we gain an intimate glimpse into his composed exterior and tumultuous personal life, symbolizing the intricate complexities of human consciousness.
While “Oppenheimer” impresses with meticulous attention to detail and abstract moments. Nolan says that he originally wrote the screenplay in the first person. He originally meant for the audience to see the story through Oppenheimer’s eyes. This could be why many characters (especially the female roles) seem two-dimensional.
While some might feel that the beginning and end may feel somewhat extended, potentially affecting the overall pacing, it remains undeniable that Nolan has achieved a towering feat in filmmaking.
Nonetheless, the film masterfully conveys the horrors of war and the weight of responsibility through its outstanding score and the utilization of sound, particularly the recurring motif of thunderously stamping feet, heightening the suspense and reinforcing the imminent threat of Oppenheimer’s work.
The movie delves into Oppenheimer’s pivotal role in the Manhattan Project and his moral dilemmas in the race against the Nazis. It artfully intertwines historical events with personal narratives, exploring Oppenheimer’s romantic involvement with Jean Tatlock (played by Florence Pugh), his political affiliations, and his choices’ profound impact on himself and those around him.
“Oppenheimer” is a grand and ambitious cinematic masterpiece that captivates viewers with its spectacle, musical score, and immersive experience. While some might feel that the beginning and end may feel somewhat extended, potentially affecting the overall pacing, it remains undeniable that Nolan has achieved a towering feat in filmmaking. His unwavering dedication to the theatrical experience is evident, and the film’s release during the summer season showcases his commitment to providing audiences with a genuinely significant cinematic offering.
"Oppenheimer" is a compelling, enigmatic, at times psychedelic biopic that invites viewers to contemplate the intricate complexities of the human condition, the cost of scientific progress, and the weight of our decisions.