The Railway Man (The Weinstein Company)
Rated R for disturbing prisoner of war violence
Starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, Stellan Skarsgård, Sam Reid, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tanroh Ishida, Marta Dusseldorp, Masa Yamaguchi, Keiichi Enomoto, James Fraser, Shoota Tanahashi, Akos Armont, Micheal Doonan.
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson, based on the book by Eric Lomax.
Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky.
War, they say is Hell. The problem is, many times, surviving soldiers don’t leave that Hell on the battlefield, and wounds unseen are harder to heal. The Railway Man is a story of how one British soldier faces his demons from surviving a Japanese prison camp in World War II.
Set in 1980, Colin Firth plays the real-life Eric Lomax, a reserved man who loves anything and everything about trains and railroading. His train expertise leads to a chance encounter with Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a ride to Scotland. They fall in love and marry, but their bliss is soon shattered by Eric’s visions and nightmares of being a prisoner inside a Thailand prison camp during the war nearly 4 decades earlier. His flashbacks begin to affect his relationship with Patti, which prompts her to seek understanding from his best friend and fellow survivor Finlay (Stellan Skarsgård).
Through flashbacks and Finlay’s storytelling, we see how Lomax (younger version played by Jeremy Irvine) and his friends were captured, forced into labor by building a railroad, beaten and tortured by members of the Kempetai (Japanese military police) during the war.
Finlay eventually discovers that Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada), the Kempetai interpreter who helped torture Lomax is alive and well, making a profit in Thailand by hosting tours of the camp and railroad (made famous by Bridge on the River Kwai). Bent on revenge, Lomax travels to Thailand to confront Nagase. When the two old soldiers meet Lomax must decide whether to carry out his vengeance or forgive his tormenter.
The Railway Man is a beautiful, moving film with a fantastic message about forgiveness and overcoming the worst of experiences. While taking a few liberties with history and Lomax’s actual experience, the overall message of compassion and mercy overcoming war rivals comes through poignant and emotional.
Firth turns in another stalwart performance, as does Sanada, who exceptionally portrays a man looking for peace, but tormented by his wartime actions.
The Railway Man is rated R for some disturbing images of torture and violence.