Credit: Kinepolis

Directed by James Hawes (in his feature directorial debut) and starring Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; The Father), Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club; Harry Potter franchise; The King’s Speech), Johnny Flynn (Stardust; Lovesick (TV series)) and Lena Olin (The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Enemies, A Love Story; Chocolat).

Biographical drama; 110 mins; 12+

One Life is the touching true story of Sir Nicholas “Nicky” Winton, a British stockbroker and humanitarian who played an instrumental role in rescuing more than 600 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II. Sir Winton passed away in 2015, aged 106, although his legacy certainly lives on.

The biopic jumps seamlessly for the most part between past and “present”, opening in late 1980s Maidenhead in England, with an almost 80-year-old Nicky (Anthony Hopkins) trying to clear the clutter from his office whilst looking for a suitable new home for a particularly valuable historical document: an old scrapbook documenting the humanitarian rescue efforts of Nicky and fellow volunteers in the late 1930s.

Jumping 50 years into the past, to 1938, viewers see a younger version of Nicky (Johnny Flynn) as a London stockbroker visiting Prague to assist refugees shortly after the signing of the Munich Agreement - an agreement that allowed for the German annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia with the hope of preventing wider European conflict but which later proved to be a false act of appeasement. What was meant to be a week-long trip for Nicky becomes an unwavering mission to evacuate as many children as possible and place them with foster families back in the United Kingdom.

The biopic follows the wholly admirable albeit at times seemingly futile efforts of Nicky and his colleagues as they prove how the kindness and bravery of even a few people can help so many others, leaving far-reaching and long-lasting consequences - a welcome message and history lesson, not least in the context of conflict around the world today.

The entire cast put on beautiful performances, particularly British icon Anthony Hopkins and promising talent Johnny Flynn. The former’s very human portrayal of a man who is not entirely aware of the positive mark he made on history and his regret over those children he could not save (despite his best efforts) is truly humbling and heartwarming.

Bring your tissues, as you may well find yourself crying one moment over the atrocities of which humanity can be capable (even if these are not explicitly depicted in the film) and another moment over the kindness and selflessness of your fellow human beings.

Currently screening at Kinepolis Kirchberg.