Complete A-Z list

One Life


Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Flynn, Helena Bonham Carter, Romola Garai, Jonathan Pryce, Lena Olin, Marthe Keller, Adrian Rawlins, Tom Glenister

Director: James Hawes

Although it lacks the emotional tug and dynamic direction of the similar Schindler's List, this is still a moving and worthwhile account of the 669 children, mainly Jewish, who were rescued from the Nazis at the fall of Czechoslovakia in the autumn of 1939.

The driving force behind this dangerous and complex enterprise - which involved getting visas, a place on a train, and finding an English foster family for each child, before the hazardous cross-Europe journey of the refugees could begin - was an English stockbroker named Nicholas Winton.

There's rather too little of the desperate past, and a little too much, good though Hopkins is, of the older version of Winton, the younger being played by a rather charisma-free Flynn. The female roles, though, are all compellingly well done by Garai, Keller and especially Bonham Carter, as Winton's redoubtable German-born mother, who has a key role in his escape plans.

The film meanders a bit towards the end, although it's good to know that Winton got to meet many of the (grown-up) children he saved, and that he himself lived to the grand old age of 106. 'You ought to slow down,' says Winton's friend (Pryce) of his continued charity work. 'You've done enough.' Replies Winton, sadly: 'It's never enough, is it?'

David Quinlan

UK 2023. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers (BBC Films). Colour.
109 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 Dec 2023