“Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”
Irish actor Cillian Murphy commands each frame with his piercing blue eyes, which as the film progresses, begins to take on a haunted tinge. A genius, a womanizer, and unstable: Murphy finds room to portray all of these traits in one J. Robert Oppenheimer.
But he is not alone. Backed up by a giant supporting cast, the likes of Emily Blunt as his wife Kitty, Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, Matt Damon as Leslie Groves, and Florence Pugh as his unhinged lover, these characters shape his foundation as a human being. We watch as Oppenheimer finds his footing as a student, then a teacher, before finally stepping into the shoes he would soon wear as the father of the atomic bomb. A dispirited Albert Einstein makes an appearance, too, played by Tom Conti.
The two timelines in the film are tied together by black-and-white sequences. The ones in color are bright and vivid, and are shot from the perspective of Oppenheimer himself whereas the ones in black-and-white, are a more objective view of his story from everyone else. This helps in making the story easier for the audience to follow, while also separating the two components of the film.
This three-hour fare captures everything (and without losing momentum) – from the theory of atoms and bomb-making, to the final execution that led to what became of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. A Nolan regular, having starred in all of Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Dunkirk, Murphy proves he has what it takes to play the lead in a Nolan movie for the first time.
The horror of the bombings is played with feverish intensity by Murphy, as Oppenheimer believes he did what needed to be done, yet simultaneously wrestles with what this knowledge and power have unleashed.
Nolan has showcased his genius with films like Tenet and Inception. He definitely solidified this reputation with Oppenheimer.
Take a seat at the theaters and watch history unfold now!