Oppenheimer, directed by Christopher Nolan, is one of the most visually striking, emotionally draining and thought-inducing films of the year.
Most movies that are usually three hours long tend to lose the audience at one time or another, but Oppenheimer grabs the attention of the viewer from the very first second ... and doesn’t let it go until the credits start rolling.
The artistic prowess of Nolan as an auteur is on full display in Oppenheimer, which like most of his other movies, takes a non-linear approach to telling the story of J Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.
Nolan’s longtime collaborator Cillian Murphy has been cast in the role of the nuclear physicist who forever changed the history of humankind. Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, among others, rounds out a cast that do a brilliant job in bringing the tensions of the atomic age to the screen.
But it is Murphy and Downey Jr who shine the most in this epic tale. Murphy brings the character of Oppenheimer to life using a much-needed subtlety and understanding, careful in his approach to not deify the man but also giving him the aura of a man who thinks he is doing the right thing.
Downey Jr plays the role of Lewis Strauss, an American businessman and naval officer, who played a huge role in the development of nuclear weapons at the time. The movie positions Strauss as the villain of the story, as a vindictive bureaucrat who destroys Oppenheimer’s legacy to further his own. Downey plays the role with a deft hand, showing off some real acting chops in what is a far cry from his role as Tony Star a.k.a Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But the star of the show is always going to be Nolan. Nolan, who is already considered one of the best directors ever, shows us why he has earned that title. Cleverly combining both first-person and third-person perspectives with help of differing aspect ratios, Nolan paints a view of a troubled man who went on to create one of the most destructive weapons known to mankind. Each frame looks, feels and sounds like it has been carefully thought out to further the overall vibe of the story.
Ludwig Göransson’s background theme never distracts from the story, but adds so much substance that you are aware of its absence in certain scenes, without it being distracting.
Nolan has always been a practical filmmaker, preferring to use real objects and people instead of CGI. Well, his refusal to use CGI to recreate the atom bomb test has only aided in making the moment in the movie even more captivating.
The movie takes a turn in the last third when it suddenly turns into a political thriller, and that was quite a nice surprise too as it helped in keeping the audience’s attention towards the end of the screening.
The movie does have a minor flaw, however. And, that’s to do with the subject matter itself. A movie about the creation of the first atomic bomb will, of course, have quite a lot of scientific jargon in it.
And, despite Nolan simplifying quite a lot of it, the sheer volume of the science thrown at you can be overwhelming at times.
However, this is a movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen and, in IMAX, if possible. Only then will you truly feel the effect of what Nolan has made.
Verdict: Do not wait for it to come on OTT platforms, head to the theatre right now and watch this masterpiece.
– Deviprasad Nair