9 May 2016

The Railway Man

The Railway Man 2013
  • Director: Jonathan Teplitsky
  • Based on book by Eric Lomax
  • Cast: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgård, Jeremy Irvine, Tanroh Ishida, Hiroyuki Sanada
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Colin Firth – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The King’s Speech, Genova, Then She Found Me, Nanny McPhee, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love Actually, Girl with Pearl Earring, My Life So Far, Shakespeare in Love, A Thousand Acres, Fever Pitch, The English Patient
    • Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole, Australia, Nine, Margot at the Wedding, Fur, The Interpreter, Birth, Cold Mountain, The Human Stain, Dogville, The Hours, Birthday Girl, The Others, Moulin Rouge, Eye Wide Shut, Practical Magic, Batman Forever, Billy Bathgate
    • Stellan Skarsgård – Mamma Mia, Melancholia, Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean, King Arthur, Dogville, The Glass House, Dancer in the Dark, Amistad, Good Will Hunting, Breaking the Waves, Den enfaldige mördaren
    • Hiroyuki Sanada – Sunshine, East Meets West
  • Why? Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman
  • Seen:  7 May 2016      

       Years after the war veteran Eric Lomax falls in love with and marries a nurse he meets on a train, Patti, but he is haunted by memories and hallucinations from his time as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp in the Burmese jungle. As Patti becomes more and more puzzled and alarmed, Eric’s behaviour becomes more bizarre and violent. She appeals to his friend and fellow veteran Finlay to tell her what had happened so that she can help him. Finley is also traumatised by what he, Eric and others had experienced but he tells her. In flashbacks we see how the British soldiers are forced through slave labour to build the railway leading to the bridge over the River Kwai through the deadly jungle. Lomax, a railway enthusiast, is part of the resistance and sabotage team. He, Finley and two others are caught with a contraband radio and tortured.
       Back in the present it is discovered that the Japanese interpreter who was part of the torture team is now leading guided tours of the camp and the railway. The consequences of this discovery are tragic and dramatic.
       It’s not the kind of war film one usually sees. It’s about the individual cost of war, the demons that plague the victims and survivors, the haunting of what Finlay calls the ‘ghost soldiers’. It’s about responsibility, criminality, lies, atonement, revenge, retribution, guilt. It’s about the degradation and the survival of the human spirit.
       It is quiet and intense and brutal. And profoundly human. ‘Some time hating has to stop.’

4 ½ * of 5

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