I realize my opinion may cut against the grain of popular opinion, but that’s never stopped me before. 🙂
What I liked
The best thing about this movie is the superb acting, and not just by Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer. In general, the acting by the entire cast is fantastic, which is a testament to the direction of Christopher Nolan.
Robert Downey Jr. did a great job as Lewis Strauss, and Emily Blunt was brilliant as Kitty Oppenheimer. I think Emily in particular stands out and I could see her getting a supporting actress nod when Oscars roll around. She didn’t get a great deal of screen time, but she made the most of what she had. What helps is that her character had a lot of emotional scenes that span from anger to sadness to disgust.
For once, a linear story, Nolan should make.
And now, the discontent for the movie. Without giving anything away, most of the story takes place in two different time frames: the building of the bomb, and about four years after the fact. I appreciate that the scenes after the war are in black-and-white and the scenes from the time of building the bomb are in color. That makes it easy to quickly clue in which time were in. Without that, I don’t think anyone could follow this movie.
I feel that Nolan decided on this format because, well… Because Christopher Nolan hasn’t made a linear movie yet. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I recall that the Batman movies were generally linear but with flashbacks. Besides those movies, Nolan is infatuated with non-linear storytelling.
I think non-linear could have worked for this story if he had reduced the number of scenes cutting back and forth, and make the scenes longer, where we’re in one-time frame for a little while instead of jumping back and forth so much. But at the same time, this story could have worked linearly as well.
Too long? Maybe, a little. But way too many scenes. I would love to see a breakdown of how many scenes there were in this movie compared to others. I think they may have set a record. It seemed to me that most scenes were less than two minutes long, many were under a minute.
I really notice that as I’m watching the movie to try and find Peetimes for the RunPee app. Generally, we try to find a few 3-4 minutes long Peetimes where there’s nothing of great importance happening. Or to be more precise, a Peetime must have scenes that are easy to describe. So a Peetime might contain crucial exposition, but if it’s easy to describe that information, it fits in a Peetime. On the other hand, scenes that are highly emotional are nearly impossible to describe.
There were lots of Peetime-worthy scenes in Oppenheimer. But the problem is that if there are five scenes in a four-minute span, then it’s impossible to concisely summarize what those scenes are.
Focus on what’s important
And now, my primary disagreement about this story is that it is too focused on the “trial” that Oppenheimer goes through. Was what happened to Oppenheimer fair? Certainly not. But at the same time, I’m not going to feel sorry for him. It isn’t like he spent the rest of his life in prison. He was a celebrated hero by many, and at worst controversial to some. In the grand scheme of things, he did just fine. The disgrace of losing his security clearance is not, in my opinion, subject matter worthy of a movie.
However, his views on using nuclear weapons and the arms race are entirely pertinent. I wish more had been made of that.
The movie we need
I would hope the popularity of this movie will inspire someone to make a movie that covers the events of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings from the Japanese perspective. We need to see and remember just how terrifying and inhumane nuclear weapons are to be reminded of just how important it is to make sure they are never used again.
About The Peetimes: It was a real chore to find good Peetimes. Most of the movie is a sequence of short scenes, few of which last more than a minute. I think the 2nd Peetime is the best. Unsurprisingly, it’s the one Peetime with a montage of scenes, many of which are in the movie trailer.
(R) Nudity | Language | Some Sexuality|
Biography, Drama, History|
Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon|
Christopher Nolan, Kai Bird, Martin Sherwin|
United Kingdom, United States|
The story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb.
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Creator and developer of the RunPee app. When something doesn’t work right in the app it’s pretty much his fault. 🙂
Aspiring author. Would like to finish his “Zombie Revelations” trilogy if he could break away for working on RunPee and the cottage he’s building for RunPee Mom.