Oppenheimer: A nuclear fusion of suspense, science and splendour
180 mins, now showing
“I’m a great admirer of your work,” someone tells a Robert Oppenheimer on screen.
Well, that’s exactly how I feel about Christopher Nolan’s filmography.
So it was with high expectations that I watched his latest brainchild – and left the theatre feeling electrified.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book ‘American Prometheus’, the IMAX-shot biographical thriller chronicles the life of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and how he must risk destroying the world in order to save it.
And what a cinematic delight it is.
There has never been any question about who should play the movie’s titular character. Cillian Murphy nails his role as a man torn between his passion for physics, a sense of duty towards his country and a moral obligation to mankind (not to mention the multiple women in his life). An ensemble cast consisting of Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon and Florence Pugh delivers equally praiseworthy performances, screen time be damned.
Christopher Nolan on why he chose Cillian Murphy to play Oppenheimer:— Christopher Nolan Art & Updates (@NolanAnalyst) July 16, 2023
“I’ve been staring at the cover of the book 'American Prometheus' for so many months, and there’s this photograph, black and white, a light blue-eyed stare, very intense, of this guy. And I thought, ‘Well, I… pic.twitter.com/03ATwumHhZ
Emily Blunt is absolutely incredible as Robert’s biologist wife, Katherine Oppenheimer, who leaves no doubt that she’s the smartest person in the room. This is especially significant not only because STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields continue to be male-dominated even today, but also because Oppenheimer is directed by a man whose movies are notorious for failing the Bechdel test.
Nolan’s signature flair and shrewd vision are hard to miss. Impeccable storytelling is enhanced by sequences that seamlessly shift between color and black-and-white. Every moment hooks and hypnotises, making three hours feel like almost no time at all. There’s also fascinating character study, punchy dialogue, pulse-pounding tension, stunning visuals and a spine-tingling soundtrack – all the elements that constitute a Nolan masterpiece.
And yet in spite of familiarity with the director’s many works, Oppenheimer still manages to captivate, surprise and awe all at once. The movie burns and burns as multiple narratives converge, culminating in a blaze of ingenuity in its final act.
Is Oppenheimer a historical epic about the father of the atomic bomb? Is it a biopic that delves into one of the greatest minds in the world of science? Is it a mind-bending thriller about mankind’s penchant for destruction – of the universe and of each other? Or is it simply an astute reflection of Nolan’s own fears of a nuclear holocaust?
Perhaps it is all of the above and more. Like with his previous works, the beauty lies in the fact that much is left to the viewer’s interpretation. All I know is that I’ll be watching whatever Nolan creates next, because he knocks it out of the park every single time.
As Emily Blunt put it perfectly, “This is not a film. This is an experience.”