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Film Review: ONE LIFE (2023): James Hawes’s Moving and Powerful Picture is One of the Most Hopeful Films of the Year

Anthony Hopkins One Life

One Life Review

One Life (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by James Hawes, written by Lucinda Coxon, Nick Drake and Barbara Winton and starring Anthony Hopkins, Lena Olin, Johnny Flynn, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Steed, Matilda Thorpe, Daniel Brown, Alex Sharp, Jiri Simek, Romola Garai, Juliana Moska, Michael Skach and Ella Novakova.

James Hawes’s deeply affecting film, One Life, is a movie that asks the question of how valuable and precious a single life is and shows how the preservation of human life can lead to future generations of loving families. Hawes’s movie is based on an incredible true story that inspires and haunts the viewer, simultaneously. One Life is a movie that has a story line which is both heartbreaking and powerful to behold.

Anthony Hopkins stars in the picture as Nicky Winton, a one-time stockbroker who is now aging and reflecting back on his life and what it has both accomplished and not achieved. The scenes with Hopkins frame the film which digs back into the earlier years of Nicky’s life back around World War II. Nicky (played as a younger man by Johnny Flynn) helped save those kids who resided in Prague after trying to escape the Nazis. Nicky took brave risks that many were afraid of taking. Through the dedication and assistance of a small group of people, Nicky managed to transport over 650 people to safety.

This film shows how hard the struggle was to save the Jewish children’s lives that Nicky wanted to preserve. It took a great deal of planning and a considerable amount of finances to make everything that occurred happen. Because of the tragic nature of the circumstances which occurred, not everybody Nicky tried to save made it to safety and this film vividly shows how intense the efforts were to find people to take in the children on the side of safety. These children couldn’t be transported unless they had a home to go to when they arrived at their destination.

Helena Bonham Carter, always fantastic, plays Nicky’s mom, Babette (Babi), in the film. Babi stood by her son’s efforts to achieve the difficult task of saving lives. Babi was the go-between for Nicky to get the children he was saving from point A to point B. Lena Olin delivers another fine performance as Nicky’s wife, Grete, who helped Nicky in his later years try to cope with the fact that Nicky did everything he could have possibly done to save as many lives as he could have.

This film’s later scenes are structured around the older Nicky’s appearance on a show called “That’s Life!” where, the audience learns, people Nicky rescued are alive many years after they were saved. These sequences are so emotional that it will be hard for the viewer to be untouched by the way the movie presents the details of what Nicky did and the importance of the lives that Nicky’s efforts helped change forever.

One Life shows the lives of the Jewish children in passing during the early scenes and we see how many kids were left for dead and how it took a man of Nicky’s integrity to do everything in his power to make sure he could help as many of them as he and his assistants could. The moving conclusion of the movie doesn’t allow the viewer a chance to leave this movie without being affected. That’s because what Nicky did was so heartfelt. Nicky didn’t do what he did because he wanted fame, he did it because it was just that as many kids’ lives as possible were preserved.

Hopkins is in fine form. He plays the older version of Nicky as a man who has gone through his life without looking for much other than the chance to make it known that his efforts were not for nothing. Nicky may beat himself up that he couldn’t do more but what he did made a tremendous difference in the world and in the lives of those he saved and their future generations.

As the younger Nicky, Johnny Flynn delivers a heartfelt, passionate performance that feels honest. A lot of the movie focuses on the younger Nicky but the scenes with the older Nicky complement the other scenes tremendously well, developing the character as a man of goodness and decency. Lena Olin’s role isn’t as showy as the part of Nicky, nor is Helena Bonham Carter’s but both actresses acquit themselves admirably in their important parts in the movie.

One Life reminds the viewer that there is goodness in the world even among all the evil that is so prevalent in society, back then and now. Angels live among us like Nicky and don’t ask for rewards or too much credit for what they do. These good people do what they do because it is the right thing to do. Because human life matters and because caring is what makes the world a good place. This is a film of hope that all people should see as a reminder of a world that once was and the lives that were lost and those which were incredibly preserved at very great risk. One Life is an excellent picture.

Rating: 9/10

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