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The Railway Man

2014-05-30 10:21
What it's about:

The extraordinary and epic true story of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp during World War II.

Decades later, Lomax and his beautiful love interest, Patti, discover that the Japanese interpreter responsible for much of Eric’s maltreatment is still alive, and they set out to confront the interpreter, and Eric’s haunting past, in this powerful and inspiring tale of heroism, humanity and the redeeming power of love.

What we thought:

In The Railway Man the aftermath of war leaves neither the captive nor the captor untarnished.

Set in the 1980s we meet Eric (Colin Firth) a World War II veteran who is obsessed with trains. He collects and memorises timetables he knows everything about trains and is known and The Railway Man. He’s withdrawn and a loner. During a chance encounter, while taking a train he wouldn’t usually take, he meets Patti (Nicole Kidman). Their whirlwind romance brings him to life and not long after their chance meeting they marry. But beneath the smiles and laughter all is not well with Eric and we soon learn that he is troubled and haunted by demons of the past that physically paralyse him and affect his mental capabilities.

Through flashbacks we find out that the young Eric, played by Jeremy Irvine, was a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp. After him and his fellow POWs are caught using a radio, Eric bravely takes the fall and as a result gets repeatedly tortured: beaten, starved and water boarded. The experience was so traumatic that Eric never revealed the full extent of his torture, not even to his best friend and fellow POW Finley (Stellan Skarsgard). Finley discovers that the man who tortured him, an interpreter Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada) is still alive. And so he sets Eric down a path of revenge. But when Eric meets Nagase revenge is not that easy. Nagase too is tormented by guilt and demons of his past.

The long term psychological effects of war, the veteran’s code of silence, the after effects of war that families have to deal with, the misguided sense of loyalty and honour in war and forgiveness are all themes explored throughout the film.

This is essentially Eric’s story and both actors did an amazing job at portraying him at the different stages in his life.  Irvine in his portrayal of a young soldier who bravely takes the fall for his team shows a remarkable spirit that cannot be broken. But the aftermath of this bravery leaves the older Eric a broken man. Oscar winner Firth is simply amazing in this role. Haunted eyes, dropping shoulders and an aura of sadness engulf him. The remarkable spirit that he exhibited is gone leaving but a shell of a man. His search for closure goes down to the core of that human need to find answers to when we were done wrong and to have the person who did us wrong acknowledge and ask for forgiveness.

This story of war is not a pretty one but it is beautifully told through the cinematography and superb acting. It is not only the story of one man’s war but the story of all wars. And while the story will leave you feeling sad it won’t leave you feeling hopeless.

The Railway Man is not only the story of one man’s war but the story of all wars.
Read more on:    colin firth  |  nicole kidman  |  movies

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