Critics praise Christopher Nolan’s “most impressive work yet” in initial ‘Oppenheimer’ reviews

The film, starring Cillian Murphy, held its world premiere in Paris on Tuesday.

The Oppenheimer cast walked the red carpet on Tuesday (11th July) for the film’s world premiere in Paris, France as a select number of journalists attended the screening and the first reactions have been effusive in their praise.

Irish actor Cillian Murphy stars as “the father of the atomic bomb”, Robert J Oppenheimer, in Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated biopic.

The all-star cast comprises Emily Blunt, who plays Oppenheimer’s wife, biologist Kitty Oppenheimer; Matt Damon portrays Manhattan Project director Lt Leslie Groves Jr, Florence Pugh plays Oppenheimer’s ex-fiancee, psychiatrist and physician Jean Tatlock, and Robert Downey Jr stars as Lewis Strauss, the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.

“The performances from these actors… I think you’re going to be as impressed with them as I have been,” Nolan told attendees at the premiere.

“It’s an intense experience. It’s a very serious subject. But it’s something we’ve poured our hearts and souls into,” he added. And the first viewers were clearly impressed with the film.

The Associated Press’ Lindsey Bahr called the movie “a spectacular achievement in its truthful, concise adaptation, inventive storytelling and nuanced performances from Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon and the many, many others involved.”

“#Oppenheimer left me stunned: a character study on the grandest scale, with a sublime central performance by Cillian Murphy,” Matt Maytum, deputy editor of Total Film wrote. “An epic historical drama but with a distinctly Nolan sensibility: the tension, structure, sense of scale, startling sound design, remarkable visuals. Wow,” he added.

“Totally absorbed in ‘Oppenheimer,’ a dense, talkie, tense film partly about the bomb, mostly about how doomed we are,” Jonathan Dean of The Sunday Times tweeted. “Happy summer! Murphy is good, but the support essential: Damon, Downey Jr & Ehrenreich even bring gags. An audacious, inventive, complex film to rattle its audience.”

Oppenheimer is inspired by the 2005 biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer, written by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin.

Speaking at an academic discussion last month, Bird said: “I am, at the moment, stunned and emotionally recovering from having seen [Oppenheimer].”

Nolan previously teased that the film had left early viewers “devastated”.

“They can’t speak. I mean, there’s an element of fear that’s there in the history and there in the underpinnings,” the director said.

As well as Murphy, Pugh, Blunt, Damon and Downey Jr, Oppenheimer also stars Rami Malek, Gary Oldman, Dane DeHaan, Josh Hartnett, Kenneth Branagh, Matthew Modine, Casey Affleck, Alden Ehrenreich and Jason Clarke.

Oppenheimer debuts in cinemas on 21 July, the same day as Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. Eager fans are already planning on buying tickets to see both films back-to-back. The viral trend, dubbed “Barbenheimer”, has become so popular that even Murphy, Margot Robbie and Tom Cruise have publicly supported it.

WriterChris Saunders