Oppenheimer (2023) Review
THE recent renaissance of cinema popularity was heavily aided by the simultaneous release of two polar-opposite movies: Greta Gerwig's Barbie and Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. Dubbed "Barbenheimer", the phenomenon has generated excitement back into the cinema experience; an even better prospect when you consider one halve of this couple deserves its praise ten times over.
Oppenheimer recounts the true events surrounding American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and his significant contribution to the Manhattan Project to create the world's first atomic bomb during the peak of World War II. The film delves further into Oppenheimer's personal life, most notably his affair with psychiatrist Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh) during his marriage with wife Kitty (Emily Blunt).
Despite sounding like your run-of-the-mill biopic, Oppenheimer is anything but. The fact that the true story of Oppenheimer's rise and inevitable self-downfall is one that is continually interesting, and therefore, engaging to watch as a spectator. Christopher Nolan's expertise as a filmmaker elevates the experience by utilising his patent directing style through ever-changing angles and a powerful score courtesy of Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson which, while melodramatic at times, is never dull and more often than not brings emotion and tension to an already exhilarating film.
After years of playing secondary roles in Nolan projects such as Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy, Cillian Murphy receives the opportunity to prove he can be a leading man -- and after this performance, there can be no debate that he will lead many more movies in the future. Murphy gives the performance of his life as the controversial physicist by being stone cold in his delivery while simultaneously showcasing a wide range of different emotions through his mannerisms and subtle facials; a hard task for even the most talented actors to achieve. Further commends must be given to co-stars Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh who deliver exceptional performances in their supporting yet important roles, as well as Robert Downey Jr. whose roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has allowed the former superhero to return to more dramatic roles such as this -- and he doesn't miss a step in this more serious endeavour. Portraying former U.S. Atomic Energy commissioner Lewis Strauss, Downey Jr. plays the foil to Oppenheimer's atomic project and does a fantastic job at that. His delivery and shrewd presence forces the audience to focus directly on him whenever Downey is on screen, and when you're in the same shot as Cillian Murphy and Matt Damon, that is no easy task to accomplish.
Oppenheimer is without question one of the best films of the year. Christopher Nolan's vision for this explosive biopic is one he has achieved in spades, managing to rival his previous works in terms of financial success and quality. Although its three-hour runtime isn't completely justified, especially during the film's second act, Oppenheimer is a must-see for anybody who enjoys quality filmmaking and intense back and forth. But let's be honest: chances are you've already seen it thanks to its unmissable double feature.