The Railway Man

Railway Man
Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky
Starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, Stellan Skarsgard
In UK cinemas January 10th, 2014

by Sarah Courtauld

In the first twenty minutes of The Railway Man, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a genteel period rom com, as Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) meets an elegant stranger (Nicole Kidman) on a train, and falls in love with her, charming her with his dry wit. “If you think Warrington is exciting, wait until you see Preston.” It’s difficult to believe people falling in love in the space of a few scenes, but they pull it off. They marry – and then the real story of the film begins, as Patti discovers that Eric is deeply traumatised by his experiences as a prisoner of war, on the Burma-Thailand railway. It’s a trauma which he is unable to talk about, but which simmers under the surface all of the time, desiccating his life.

Colin Firth creates a beautiful portrait of a man trapped in the traumas of his past. For him, the war never really ended. The film takes us back into his horrifying experiences (his younger self is played brilliantly by Jeremy Irvine) – as he undergoes brutal torture at the hands of the Japanese after owning up to secretly making a radio receiver.  The torture scenes are hard to watch, as even though not much is shown, the implications are overtly graphic.

Back in the 1980’s, as Patti tries to get him to talk about his experiences, Lomax bristles and rages and shuts her out. He has spent the last thirty years fantasising about how he could take his revenge on the man who tortured him. And then he discovers that his torturer, Nagase Takashi – is still alive, living in Thailand.  So Lomax sets out to find him, and enact the revenge.

The Railway Man is a touching film, based on the unbelievable true story of Eric Lomax.

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