In Oppenheimer, Nolan’s depiction of atomic history is credited to one man. We sometimes see women and wives, albeit as a backdrop. Emily Blunt and Frances Pugh do great work with very few words spoken. The women’s work in—in this case meaning their function—is sexual: as muse, mistress, mama. But any potential power in these roles shifts at the whims of men. The real performances of this film—science, law, politics, violence, espionage—are seen and spoken without them.
“What work do wives do? They understand male scientific and military might and destruction from the perspective of the unwitting receiver (or observer or support), which is the role most of us play.”