We round up the reviews for Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated new film, starring Cillian Murphy as J Robert Oppenheimer.
The Guardian: **** “Cillian Murphy is an eerily close lookalike for Oppenheimer with his trademark hat and pipe, and is very good at capturing his sense of solitude and emotional imprisonment, giving us the Oppenheimer million-yard stare, eyeballs set in a gaunt skull, seeing and foreseeing things he cannot process.”
The Observer: **** “But, for the most part, the film is a towering achievement. Not surprisingly, given Nolan’s preference for shooting on Imax 70mm film, the picture has a depth of detail you could drown in. There’s no shortage of scenes of furious blackboard scribbling, the accepted cinematic signifier of scientific genius. But more interesting are the abstract moments; it’s as though we are venturing into the heart of the atom itself. Equally inventive is the way the sets seem to quake at moments of tension. Oppenheimer’s world is literally rocked by the shockwaves of the reaction that has been set in motion.”
Empire: ***** “At the film’s pulsing nucleus is Murphy as Oppenheimer, and he is compelling throughout. Given the movie’s hefty import, you’d have expected him to infuse every ounce of his talent into this performance, and that is certainly evident from his every moment on screen — often with cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s IMAX lens focused squarely and unsparingly on his face, as he conjures the conflicting emotions that rage beneath Oppenheimer’s surface. This is, after all, a uniquely complex man: praised as a hero for ending the war, wracked with guilt over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and perhaps desperate to cleanse his soul through martyrdom.”
The Independent: **** ” The film is constructed in a way that allows its audience to comprehend, on an intellectual level, the profound power and chaos that led its central character to see himself as the “Death, destroyer of worlds” of Hindu scripture.”
Roger Ebert:**** “the film’s furiously entropic tendencies complement the theoretical discussions of the how’s and why’s of the individual and collective personality. To greater and lesser degrees, all of the characters are appearing before a tribunal and bring called to account for their contradictions, hypocrisies, and sins. The tribunal is out there in the dark. We’ve been given the information but not told what to decide, which is as it should be.”
BBC.com: ***** “As this inspired film suggests, Oppenheimer’s greatest tragedy was that he wasn’t able to save the future from his own invention.”
Vulture.com: “Oppenheimer is a movie so sprawling it’s difficult to contend with. It’s rich, uncompromising, and borderline unwieldy, but more than anything, it’s a tragedy of operatic grandeur despite so many of its scenes consisting of men talking in rooms — conference rooms, Senate chambers, university classrooms, and emptied-out restaurants, all the prosaic places where the fate of the earth gets hashed out.”
The FT: **** “For all the hint of Hollywood in Los Alamos, Christopher Nolan isn’t Robert Oppenheimer. Nor is he Stanley Kubrick, who gave us that deathless nuclear comedy, Dr Strangelove. Kubrick was brilliant; Nolan is proficient. You may still find that his new film stays with you for days, turning itself over in your mind. And if that owes as much to Oppenheimer as Oppenheimer, the pair do have much in common: each as bold as they are flawed, two contradictory equations.”
Oppenheimer is out now in cinemas.