Thought this might be the most analogous film to Oppenheimer to watch in preparation: a time-jumping period piece about obsessive men committing atrocities, pretending they worked for anybody other than themselves. 

The last time I re-watched this I thought it was bland, and I thought the ending cheapened it. I’m not sure what’s changed, except maybe that I’ve aged and recognize more of these men in my life and the lives of those around me. 

I used to think the reveal at the end cheapened the film, but I realize now that Bale’s portrayal of these two men is complex and nuanced. It’s not that they both live half a life, like the script says. It’s that both live two full lives, torn apart and yet committed. Both of them live the lie. The lies are destructive. The obsession is not. 

On the other hand, Jackman’s performance is the one that reveals the cost of obsession. Like Whiplash or There Will Be Blood, we watch as the man loses everything to accomplish one dream. For the looks on their faces.” He does evil things — they all do; nobody here is innocent — but we are left to judge a different question: was it worth it?

It’s certainly over-edited, but it’s hard to find fault elsewhere. Christian Bale’s performance is terrific, pure magic. No pun intended. 

Obsession is a young man’s game.”

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