“Oppenheimer” is a gripping and intense portrayal of a crucial moment in human history, showcasing the life and career of the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie explored the moral implications of Oppenheimer’s work on the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapons. Throughout the film, the complex themes and characters, the stunning visuals and score, and the engaging and thought-provoking story captivated viewers.

Oppenheimer has been billed throughout as a biopic of the theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, but by the end of the movie, you will be questioning that ideal. It is a biopic of his life, there is no doubt, but it also can be billed as a period piece and courtroom drama (senate hearing).  There’s intricacy in the story as Nolan weaves romantic liaisons and lecture hall personalities in amongst the life of Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb.

I had little knowledge of Oppenheimer himself before this movie, so viewed it ‘blind’ so to speak. My view of this is that it could be described as a monster movie. Oppenheimer loved his science surrounded by the endless potentials of it, and once in the Manhattan Project, he seemed to relish in possibilities. But we’ll come back to that.

We see Oppenheimer at different times in his life throughout the film, each version of him indicating which timeline were in. Academia, a security clearance hearing, developing the bomb, his married life and romantic liaisons are all different examinations of him. These are cut together with a Senate hearing. Lewis Strauss (former colleague of Oppenheimer) is looking to be appointed to a government role. The dipping in and out of differing timelines takes some concentration, but this is typical with a Nolan film. They often take two watches to pick up on little threads that you may have missed.

(L) Cillian Murphy (R) Oppenheimer
(L) Matt Damon (R) General Leslie Groves

The cast of the movie were incredible. Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer has several moments in the movie but felt underused. I sense that in real life, she was probably more of a formidable character. Her interrogation scene was the best. Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock impressed me. There is a naturality to Ms Pughs acting. Something that drags your eye in, and you can’t look away. Matt Damon as General Groves was a perfect fit. Solid and owning the role. Robert Downey Jr as Lewis Strauss, there was a fragility yet an underlying madness to how he played the role, something to be commended. 

But Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer. What can you say? The haunted and hollow look was achieved not only by the chosen actor, but also by his acting ability. I would love to see Cillian Murphy nominated for best actor. I’d also be delighted to see Matt Damon and Robert Downey Junior nominated as best supporting actors. They would be thoroughly deserved.

(L) Tom Conti (R) Albert Einstein
(L) Lewis Strauss (R) Robert Downey Jr

Oppenheimer relished the possibilities of science, and this was portrayed well throughout the movie. Cillian Murphy should be an Oscar contender for his role in this movie and I can narrow it to one scene. Oppenheimer realises too late that there is a limitless human capacity for destruction, and he has handed the world the weapon to do it with. The sheer horror played out by Cillian when this realisation hits is phenomenal.

I stated earlier that this is a monster movie. Is the monster Oppenheimer for creating the bomb? Is the monster the people of the world that have the power to authorise it’s use? Is the monster, the appetite for annihilation that is unleashed by the bomb onto man?

That’s for you to decide.