A movie made for fans of tear-jerking viral clips and Anthony Hopkins, One Life tells the story of Sir Nicholas Winton — often dubbed the “British Schindler” — in two distinct timelines. In 1938, a young Winton (Johnny Flynn) travels from London to Prague to assist refugee efforts on the eve of World War II. Fifty years later, and still carrying the guilt of those he wasn’t able to save, an older Winton (Hopkins) attempts to finally reckon with the weight of the past, which inadvertently leads him to being invited as a guest on the British talk show That’s Life. His appearance made his story public, but it was a moving viral clip of the episode that made it globally-known in 2009.
The combination of Hopkins’ casting and the potent subject matter makes One Life instantly intriguing, especially as a movie that builds to a recognizable moment often shared online. For the most part, it’s a simple, straightforward war drama, whose bifurcated structure allows Hopkins to tug at the heartstrings. However, the way it approaches the events of the clip are a surprising extension of the film’s more complicated moments. Its final act is, as expected, incredibly moving, but first-time feature filmmaker James Hawes isn’t content with wrapping things up in a neat and comfortable bow.
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