The Railway Man promised a deep historical drama based on the book as its source material and in that aspect, it does deliver.
Starring Colin Firth as WW2 soldier Lomax, captured by the Japanese and forced to labour in terrible conditions on a huge railway, the movie flicks between real time with a PTSD ridden Firth and his younger alter-ego played by Jeremy Irvine. His wife, Patti, played by Nicole Kidman, delves into the mystery of the Lomax’s past in his refusal to convey any kind of information about it to her as he goes on a hunt to find his past torturer, Takashi (Hiroyuki Sanada).
First thing’s first, the movie is pretty emotionally satisfying. Farrell plays the PTSD up really well and traumatically, Irvine is particularly impressive, not only looking like a younger Firth but also expertly adopted his mannerisms and character traits. Lomax’s friend, Finlay (Skarsgaard) is poor. Skarsgaard doesn’t even try to hide his bloody foreign accent despite Finally being a thoroughly English officer in the book. Kidman is as dull as dishwater too.
In fact the whole movie is very dull and very bleak. It is, in truth, pretty boring. The reason I’ve given it three stars is the ending, the confrontation with Lomax and Takashi is very emotionally weighted, masterfully acted and gives great closure not only on Lomax but also the audience. The cinematography is grey and brooding, Farrell’s scenes are haunting and a couple of torture scenes are so well filmed they are literally painful to watch.
The audience will simply be divided into three here. Historians will love it; people who read the book will, on the whole, enjoy it and general people who fit into neither of those categories will think it’s shit. Very boring, I imagine, if you don’t care about the war. That said, it’s too artistically filmed to possibly give it a bad review unfortunately and though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, I can’t call it a bad film.
Well filmed, emotional and historically satisfying, The Railway Man is a thoughtful drama. Though, I won’t be revisiting this station anytime soon.