Sir Anthony Hopkins stars as Sir Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker who helped rescue hundreds of children from Europe on the verge of the Second World War, an act of compassion that was almost forgotten for 50 years.
In 1938, Nicholas Winton was a mild-mannered British stockbroker who became increasingly unsettled by the news of what was happening in continental Europe. After a spur-of-the-moment decision to join friends in Prague to help a growing number of refugees, his life — and the lives of hundreds of Jewish children facing the threat of Hitler’s regime — changed forever. Resolving to take whatever action he could, Winton returned to London and conscripted his indefatigable mother, Babette (Helena Bonham Carter) for what would become years of fundraising and fighting bureaucracy in order to begin transporting children to safety in the UK.
Sir Anthony Hopkins masterfully portrays the deeply humble and almost-anonymous Winton of the 1980s. When his ever-patient wife Grete (Lena Olin) asks him to declutter his office, Nicholas uncovers the long-buried folders and notes that hold the many names of all the children he saved, sparking memories of his wartime efforts. We then follow the younger Nicky, played by Johnny Flynn (Clouds of Sils Maria, TIFF ’14), in his sincere and rallying race against an impending war.
Nicholas' scrapbook triggered a series of events that culminated in the long-delayed celebration of his life-saving achievements when the BBC invited him to a television program that made him an icon of compassion. His story resonates in our time, as we continue to grapple with war, refugee crises, and growing antisemitism. One Life is a moving portrait of the drive to serve in times of strife and a timeless reminder of our ability to make a difference.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: mature themes