Posted December 31, 2013 by editor in Film Reviews

The Railway Man Review


A film of many parts, The Railway Man evolves from one thing to the next through its character development. We meet the mild mannered (does Firth play it any other way ever?) Eric Lomax. A man who spends a lot of him free time cataloguing and memorising information about trains and their schedules. He meets the even milder mannered Patti (Nicole Kidman) and the two quickly fall in love (much to the joy of friends) and are married. But it is from here that we find that Eric is suffering from a post-traumatic disorder relating to his time in captivity during World War II where he worked as a British officer.

Through flashback we learn of Eric (Jeremy Irvine playing the younger Eric) and his companies torment at the hands of Japanese soldiers and officers in a POW camp as they are also forced to work on the railway system there.

In present day Lomax is trying to avoid his issues, despite the aid of his wife and long term friend and fellow former POW Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), and instead it takes the two of them working together to finally get Eric to face his past, especially when their main tormentor pops back up on their radar in the newspaper.

Once we do get to the third of the film that requires Lomax to take action the film delivers on the tension and the stakes become very big as Eric travels alone to settle matters once and for all. What sells the trauma is Colin Firth’s performance, the reaction from his friends, and finally the response he is given when he finally travels to face down his aggressor (Hiroyuki Sanada). And it is this third act that really delivers on built up tension between the characters. Both actors, devoid of support, sell the scenes that follow.

The scenes set in the past are not fleshed out perhaps enough for us to care as much, which is an unfair statement perhaps in regard to the subject matter. But with audiences being exposed to a wide variety of modern techniques of torture and POW treatment the mind can get slightly desensitised to what has been seen perhaps before viewing this film. With that in mind, it is perhaps worth giving the characters some ground to work on for what is ultimately a very hearty tale.

3 Stars




Steven Hurst