Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Oppenheimer: A Hopelessly Fragmented Study

"Oppenheimer in Las Vegas" by Proud Asparagus

Bill Goodykoontz of Arizona Republic wrote, "Oppenheimer, like most of Christopher Nolan's movies, can't get from point A to point B without going through an alphabet’s worth of time shifts and narrative changes."  I don't see how his fans haven't become bored with this by now.  It's something that I have never enjoyed.  According to the MasterClass website, character development involves "the changes a character undergoes over the course of a story as a result of their actions and experiences."  A character moves forward through a story.  He progresses from point A to point B to point C.  He changes for better or worse.  But Nolan has his protagonist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, bounce back and forth through time shifts.  We don't get to follow Oppenheimer as he gradually transforms from a cocky young physicist to the tormented, disillusioned father of the atomic bomb.  Young Oppenheimer and Old Oppenheimer are never separated by time or events.  They live forever side by side in a gimmicky blending of time and space.  This fractured story of time shifts, perspective shifts, narrative shifts and film stock shifts is at times confusing and meandering.  The film lacks a propulsive rhythm.  It's like chopping up a song sheet so that the notes can be scrambled and played out of order.  On Twitter, Dvorstone wrote, "[Oppenheimer is] edited almost entirely into mini-scenes. It darts back and forth in time. . . It never feels like a story.  It feels like a three hour trailer."

I must add, though, that Cillian Murphy's performance as Oppenheimer is brilliant.

Reference Source

"'The Beanie Bubble' bursts when the film gets too convoluted," Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic, July 26, 2023,

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