In ‘One Life’, Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn share emotional chemistry (Part-2).  

We meet the elder Winton at home in southeast England's Maidenhead. He stares at old wartime images of children in 1987. Local charity work occupies him. He keeps cluttering his study despite his wife Grete (Lena Olin) telling him, “You have to let go, for your own sake.” He's unsure what to do with a torn leather briefcase containing a wartime scrapbook.

Back in 1939 London, 29-year-old Nicky, who is Jewish but raised as a Christian, decides to leave his affluent home with his mother, Babi (Helena Bonham Carter), to fly to Prague. He wants to help with the rising crisis caused by refugees from the Sudetenland region newly seized by Germany. He and others fear (right) that the Nazis would invade and transfer Jewish refugees to camps.

He meets poor families and starving children in Prague, such a 12-year-old girl caring for a lost baby. “We must move the children,” he tells coworkers. They say it's too hard. He persists, convincing a local rabbi to provide him lists of youngsters to start the process (“I'm putting their lives in your hands”). 

After returning to London with his determined mother, he races against time and bureaucratic bureaucracy to get visas for the children and raise media notice. “The process takes time,” explains an official. “We don’t have time,” he says.

He arranges travel to meet trains in London, where children are paired with foster families. (Until the emotional crescendo at the end, Prague departure scenes with children bidding farewell to parents who must obviously know they'll never see them again are the most affecting in the film).

The film alternates between 1939 and 1987-88, showing that Winton got eight trains of children out but not a ninth, with 250 turned back when the Nazis came, a loss he carries inside. He meets a Holocaust scholar married to news magnate Robert Maxwell.

Hawes, who worked on that BBC show, faithfully recreates the television studio climax after that meeting. Knowing that some of the background performers in the studio that day were family members of individuals Winton saved makes the moment even more heartbreaking. “There was not a dry eye on the set floor,” stated the director.

The Motion Picture Association rated Bleecker Street's "One Life" PG for "thematic material, smoking and some language." Runtime: 110 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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