Based on the book "If It's Not Impossible…: The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton" by Barbara Winton, "One Life" tells the touching, unbelievable but all too true story of Nicholas 'Nicky' Winton (played by Johnny Flynn), a young stockbroker from London who moves to Prague in December 1938, overwhelmed by the drama of the thousands of (mainly Jewish) refugees who flooded the city from the German-speaking Sudetenland after its annexation by Nazi Germany.
In an uneven race against time, Winton, along with Trevor Chadwick (played by Alex Sharp) and Doreen Warriner (played by Romola Garai), set up the British Refugee Committee in Czechoslovakia and succeed with truly superhuman efforts in the face of distrust from the British state and excessive red tape to get 669 children to flee to UK foster families before the Nazis invaded the country.
Fifty years later, the now elderly Nicky (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins) is haunted by the fate of the children he failed to save until the popular BBC show "That's Life!" takes his story and lifts him out of obscurity, turning him into a national hero.
You may have seen the original video of Winton sitting in the audience of the show, unaware that the middle-aged people around him are some of the children he had saved. It went viral a few years ago and is the most powerful scene of "One Life"
"Saving Winton" is neither "Private Ryan" nor "Schindler's List". It doesn't feature risky missions, psychotic escapes, or psychopathic Nazis chasing down Jewish fugitives. It's more about the unequal struggle of a handful of volunteers against the British bureaucratic monster while the Nazi invasion is imminent, so it doesn't lend itself to a Spielbergian war epic. However, the complexity of the character that Hopkins captures so aptly and convincingly in a truly haunting performance, the inner conflict, the guilt, the sadness for those who were not saved, and the need to get the story out without being seen himself add extra weight to an otherwise standard and formulaic rendition of a shocking story.