ONE LIFE (2024)

Genre: Drama/Biography
Director: James Hawes
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Flynn, Lena Olin, Romola Garai, Alex Sharp, Marthe Keller, with Jonathan Pryce, Helena Bonham Carter
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 25 April 2024

Synopsis: Based on the book ‘If It’s Not Impossible…” by Barbara Winton. ONE LIFE tells the true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, a young London broker (Johnny Flynn), who, along with Trevor Chadwick (Alex Sharp) and Doreen Warriner (Romola Garai), rescued 669 children from the Nazis in the months leading up to World War II. Nicky visited Prague in December 1938 and found families who had fled the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austria, living under threat of Nazi invasion. How many children could he and the team rescue before the borders closed? Fifty years later, Nicky (Anthony Hopkins) lives haunted by the fate of the children he wasn’t able to bring to safety in England. It’s not until a live BBC television show that introduces him to some surviving children - now adults - that he finally begins to come to terms with the guilt and grief he had carried for five decades.

Movie Review:

All thanks to Steven Spielberg’s award-winning 1993’s Schindler’s List, we got to know of Oskar Schindler, an ordinary businessman who managed to save thousands of refugees from the Holocaust. But there’s many more untold stories about humanitarians during those dreadful, dark period with Nicholas Winton being one of the many.

In 1938, a young London stockbroker, Winton (Johnny Flynn) decides to place Jewish children with foster parents in Britain after seeing their plight in Czechoslovakia. His plan is to bring them on trains from Prague to Britain before the war breaks out and borders closed. But first, he needs to raise funds, established proper contacts and logistics with the help of fellow humanitarians and his mother, Babi (Helena Bonham Carter).

Fast forward to 1987, we see the elder Winton (Anthony Hopkins) wondering what to do with the scrapbook that compromises of all the details and photos of the children he rescued. Winton in fact is not much of a bragger nor one who talks about the past. For what he have done, he still blames himself for all the 250 children he was not able to save, all scheduled to board the last train which was stopped by the Nazis on the day they invaded Poland. His wife (Lena Olin) suggest he donates the book to a museum or library but later on, a supposedly rubbish BBC show, “That’s Life” managed to save them all the trouble.

Based on the book “If It's Not Impossible?: The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton” by Barbara Winton, One Life is the true story of Nicholas “Nicky” Winton. The narrative goes back and forth in time though there’s no way you are going to lose your attention given the dramatic tension of an invading enemy and the near impossible task of finding foster homes in such a short amount of time.

Certainly, One Life lacks the lavish budget of Schindler’s List and the cinematic eye of Spielberg but television director James Hawes pulls off more than a decent, heart-wrenching story of a selfless man given the limited resources. Indeed, the pacing can be slower at times. There’s a brief scene of Winton catching up with an old friend, Martin (Jonathan Pryce), a mini The Two Popes reunion. Instead the attention can be focused on fellow humanitarians liked Doreen and Trevor Chadwick since Wonton’s gutsy operation requires more than mere paperwork so some slight nitpick here.

From a historical point of view, there’s enough facts, figures and theme of heroism packed into the entire package. It’s not a showcase about the cruelty of World War II or the demented acts carried out by the Nazis thus you need to get your expectations right. It’s mostly a quiet, dignified treatment of a true story and retelling of a behind-the-scenes hero that will leaves you teary-eyed at times. Winton’s efforts and story never gets old regardless the times.

The 86 year old Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins seems to exhibit no signs of slowing down as he once again delivers a genuinely affecting performance. One Life is not exactly the kind of war movie you normally see, it’s a celebration of a remarkable ordinary man who saved 669 children from the evil clutches of the devil yet believes at the end of the day, he could do more.

Movie Rating:




(In the current climate of war and chaos around the world, One Life is the perfect example of how passionate humanitarian efforts can make a difference)

Review by Linus Tee


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