‘One Life’ reviews round-up: Hopkins on ‘peak form’ in ‘incredibly moving’ biopic

The first reviews are in for emotional new British movie One Life!

Based on an incredible true story of bravery and heroism, the new film stars Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) and Helena Bonham Carter (Enola Holmes).

They’re joined by Jonathan Pryce (The Crown), Romola Garai (Atonement), and Johnny Flynn (Emma).

Watch the trailer here:

One Life tells the true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, a young London broker who, in the months leading up to World War II, rescued 669 children from the Nazis.

Nicky visited Prague in December 1938 and found families who had fled the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austria, living in desperate conditions with little or no shelter and food, and under threat of Nazi invasion.

He immediately realised it was a race against time. How many children could he and the team rescue before the borders closed?

Fifty years later, it’s 1988 and Nicky lives haunted by the fate of the children he wasn’t able to bring to safety in England; always blaming himself for not doing more.

It’s not until a live BBC television show, That’s Life, surprises him by introducing him to some surviving children – now adults – that he finally begins to come to terms with the guilt and grief he had carried for five decades.

Adapted from Barbara Winton‘s book If It’s Not Impossible… The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton, the movie is directed by James Hawes (Black MirrorMerlin)

One Life received its European Premiere in October at this year’s BFI London Film Festival.

The movie will now be getting a full release in UK cinemas from Monday 1 January 2024.

We’ve collected this selection of spoiler-free reviews here to help you decide if you want to watch One Life:


“Anthony Hopkins gives another emotionally wrecking performance…

“For the most part, it’s a simple, straightforward war drama, whose bifurcated structure allows Hopkins to tug at the heartstrings … its final act is, as expected, incredibly moving” – Mashable


“The safe and conventional filmmaking here almost derails the intended power and importance of Nicholas’ achievements…

“In spite of such shortcomings, One Life finds its strength through Anthony Hopkins. An actor whom you can always depend on, Hopkins delivers a heartfelt and sincere performance, capturing the melancholic gravity behind Winton’s pain, grief and regret over not accomplishing more…

“Flynn is equally impressive as his younger counterpart. It’s in these performances that One Life really comes to life.” ★★★ – Empire


“Anthony Hopkins is in peak form in a stirring, if by-the-numbers, period piece…

“The whole 1938-39 section is efficiently done … The scenes set in the 1980s end up being in someways more of an emotional gut punch thanks to Hopkins’ patient, gentle performance.” – Hollywood Reporter


“Anthony Hopkins moves in stirring second world war drama…

“The film might, at times, feel more like a BBC TV drama (it does come from BBC Films among others) with some pedestrian film-making touches but it builds towards a last act of towering emotion, with few dry eyes at its Toronto film festival premiere.” ★★★ – The Guardian


“A classically crafted feature debut from veteran TV director James Hawes…

“The biopic serves as a testament to the power of good, with a prestige cast including a fine, understated Anthony Hopkins … and Johnny Flynn as his energetic younger self…” – Variety


“Anthony Hopkins is devastating in British prestige biopic with silly script…

“The undeniably moving nature of Winton and his associates’ deeds swell the narrative with rich emotional currents, however the film’s bid for consistent quality is kneecapped by a ridiculously on-the-nose script.” – IndieWire


“Winton is often called ‘the British Oskar Schindler’. Held back by a more conservative aesthetic and emotional approach, One Life comes nowhere near the power and veracity of Steven Spielberg’s film.

“But it does have an ace in the hole in Anthony Hopkins, whose performance delivers a subtle but profound gut-punch.” ★★★ – Time Out


One Life is set to be released in the US later in 2024.

Barbara Winton’s book If It’s Not Impossible… The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton is available on Amazon.