One Life

Verdict: This tear-jerking biographical drama shines a light on the remarkable true story of Sir Nicholas Winton

  • Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Flynn
  • January 1st 2024
  • James Hawes

Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn play the stockbroker-turned-humanitarian at different times in his life.

If you don’t know the story of Sir Nicholas Winton and the Kindertransport, then One Life is a vital watch.

This moving biographical drama is told across two timelines in the late 1930s and 1980s, with Johnny Flynn and Anthony Hopkins sharing the role of the London stockbroker-turned-humanitarian.

In the months leading up to World War II, Winton visits Prague and discovers refugees living in poor conditions after fleeing the rise of the Nazis in Germany, Austria and northern Czechoslovakia.

He can’t just go back to London and leave them behind, especially with the threat of Nazi invasion looming.

Winton, his mother Babi (Helena Bonham Carter) and the team at the British Commission for Refugees of Czechoslovakia (BCRC) race against time to bring the Jewish children at risk of being murdered from Prague to the U.K.

Winton’s staggering humanitarian feat remained a secret for 50 years until an episode of That’s Life! shined a light on his service in the late ’80s.

It’s probably no surprise that One Life is a powerful, emotional watch, particularly when Winton finally gets the recognition he deserves for his inspiring act of kindness and service.

The subject is very timely and relevant in the current climate and you can’t help but compare the treatment of refugees between then and now. Naturally, it’s very moving and tissues will probably be needed.

All of the cast – including Romola Garai, Alex Sharp, Lena Olin and Jonathan Pryce – give solid performances but Hopkins is the most heartbreaking.

Winton felt undeserving of all the praise because he wanted to rescue them all and focused on the ones he didn’t save. He couldn’t accept how much of a difference he made to them and the generations after them.

One Life, directed by James Hawes, is a relatively conventional biopic but it wins you over on the strength of its remarkable true story.

It reminds us that one person can make a difference and, “If something is not impossible, then there must be a way to do it.”

In cinemas from Monday 1 January 2024.

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