Title: The Railway Man
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jeremy Irvine, Stellan Skarsgard.
Jonathan Teplitzky adapts the bestselling autobiography by Eric Lomax into a feature film: ‘The Railway Man’ tells the extraordinary and epic true story of a British Army officer who was tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp during World War II. Decades later, Lomax and his loving wife, Patti, discover that the Japanese interpreter responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and set out to confront him.
This inspiring tale of heroism, humanity and the redeeming power of love, is utterly powerful in delivering the Britishness of certain mythological values: dignity, self-sacrifice, valiance, bravery and understatement, are fully embodied by the top-notch performances of Colin Firth (in the elder version of Lomax) and Jeremy Irvine (as the young Eric).
Irvine – best known as the lead in ‘War Horse’ – makes the torture scenes and other hardships believable. He also physically resembles very much Lomax and is more than passable as a young Colin Firth. This latter portrays the damaged ex-soldier as hollowed-out, yet still human and hopeful; he comes across with a rich emotional faceting: broken, angry, distant, but somehow sympathetic. Hiroyuki Sanada as Takashi Nagase and Stellan Skarsgard are also excellent, just as Nicole Kidman who tackles the least developed main character in the film, but still performs admirably as the plot’s catalyst.
‘The Railway Man’ is a contemplative drama about the war after war. Accustomed as we are to seeing movies with intense battles and combats, this story is surprisingly effective in its exploration of what happens after the guns have stopped firing and the soldiers have gone home. Usually the lasting impact of the war wounds – both physical and mental – is rarely seen, but Jonathan Teplitzky shows with great intensity and veracity the aftermath of war and how different men deal with the trauma brought on by conflict.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi