The Railway Man Movie Review
Don't mess with Colin Firth, because he will mess with you. That's the message (well, not really) in The Railway Man, a drama about a former British Army officer who discovers that the man responsible for much of his brutal treatment in a Japanese prisoner camp during World War II is still alive. Nicole Kidman also stars, because why not.
The Railway Man is a well acted piece of film that most notably tells a shockingly brutal true story of torture and survival. Based on the autobiography of the same name by Eric Lomax, The Railway Man depicts extreme torture of British POWs and the psychological effects torture can have on men decades later.
The movie succeeds largely thanks to the fascinating source material. Each individual segment of the movie is good but not amazing, and yet director Jonathan Teplitzky finds synergy in the combination of said pieces.
Firth and Jeremy Irvine play the old and young Lomax respectively, while Kidman plays his wife. All three actors deliver strong performances, though none are standouts given the subject matter. Irvine is great in the flashbacks, but his role seems to exist primarily to demonstrate the terrible torture Lomax was subjected to. Firth is good but understated, much like the film. Kidman is great but disappears for large periods of time.
The weakest aspect of The Railway Man are the “modern day” scenes, which has Firth trying to come to terms with what happened to him. The scenes amount to a lot of talking without much depth, opting for stodgy moments where Kidman, as Lomax's wife, attempts to dig deeper into her husband's psyche and Stellan Skarsgaard appears to advance the plot by telling us what happened to Lomax. The scenes between Firth and Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays his former captor Takeshi Nagase, are disappointing and feel overly melodramatic compared to the rest of the movie.
The Railway Man tells an interesting true story and is supported by a trio of good performances. The movie's sometimes understated approach keeps it from being anything more than that, however. Still, recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.