Well…I have good news and bad news for you. First, the bad news. I reference “Barbenheimer” last week. This was this promotion that the viewer should do a double feature and see both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” on the same day. A double feature. That WAS my original plans. However, time alluded me this week and I was only able to see the 1st of this double feature. That being said, by the time you are reading this…I will have seen Barbie! So next week we will review “Barbie” and I’ll add a small anecdote comparing the films to each other. The good news is…spoiler alert…this film was GREAT!!!!! I will probably see it again as well. Well done! A+ I was even told I should give this 6 stars out of 5…. Which is unheard of. And that’s not happening! A little backstory on Oppenheimer. This film is directed by Christopher Nolan. It is a no stretch to say he is one of the best film makers of our time. This may be his best film. The title stems from the man J. Robert Oppenheimer. He was a theoretical physicist who is considered the “father of the atomic bomb.” He was instrumental in the efforts to devise and construct the world’s first nuclear bomb. Which, we (the US) used in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I won’t give away too much of this plot because 1. It all actually happened and 2. It’s an excellent film I hope you will see, but I will give you a few reasons why this may very well become the 2023 Best Picture.
Onto the film.
Immediately the score of this film and the cinematography adds tension and an unease that sat with me the entire time. Obviously, I know the story. I know the bomb was successfully created, but I was so drawn into the plot, the acting, and the scenes unfolding I was questioning what actually happened. Well done.
We also see that this story jumps around in timelines. We see a security hearing for reissuance in 1954 for Oppenheimer. (Murphy) We see the actual events playing out in building the bombs
at Los Alamos. We also see a confirmation hearing for Lewis Strauss (Downey Jr.) As the film builds up tension and allows the viewer to peek inside the innerworkings of these monumental moments, Nolan jumps to a new timeline. He’s winding the coils tighter and tighter.
We learn that Oppenheimer (Murphy) is intrigued by different ways of thought. As a theorist he does his due diligence by not seeing things in black and white. Learning and listening and having an open mind. He does say he’s not great with math and has others do the calculations. He’s the thinker. He is passionate about many areas of life, even rumored to have dealing with communists. He first meets Jean Tatlock (Pugh) and they have a tumultuous relationship that adds another wrinkle to his complex life. He then meets Katherine “Kitty” Puening (Blunt) who goes on to spend her days with him until the end. All of these characters I am mentioning are PERFECT for their roles. You can see the cast list above, but that’s not even half of the cast. I can’t remember a film with more perfect casting and more “bit” parts that hold so much substance.
I don’t want to give anymore of the plot, but I will say this story is so intriguing and the man Oppenheimer is so complex, I immediately went home and read more and more about all of the players in this.
A few notables. Cillian Murphy is outstanding as Oppenheimer. He adds depth to a womanizing, enigma of a man. When we feel pain, the audience feels pain. Robert Downey Jr. is incredibly as Lewis Strauss. Downey Jr. has been an actor I’ve always enjoyed. He’s able to become so vile and conniving as I actively rooting against him. As you will too. Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh they all embody their roles and become the characters. I really could continue down the list, but you get the picture. I would be beyond shocked if this film isn’t nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay, Director, Actor, Actress, and Supporting in both categories. I expected a 3-hour snooze fest. Instead, I was given another masterclass in film. Movies like this are why I’ve enjoyed doing this.
As I mentioned earlier, next week Barbie. Another film rumored to discuss existential crisis, just this time in doll form. But, if you’re a fan of history, a fan of ANY of the actors in this. Go see this film. I’ve enjoyed Cillian Murphy since 2006 with a small film called The Wind That Shakes the Barley. I can remember seeing him on screen with one of my dearest friends Sean Herman. Who I miss dearly. I knew then that Murphy was a good actor. I now see him as a great one! 5 stars (no not 6) out of 5