Review – The Railway Man (2014)
A victim from World War Two’s “Death Railway” sets out to find those responsible for his torture. Based on a true story.
The Railway Man has been intriguing to me ever since I first saw the trailer. I like historical films and Colin Firth has never disappointed me, so this seemed like a must-watch. I was entirely right.
I went to see this film with my granddad and his wife, who spend a month in Thailand every year. As we watched the trailer, they pointed out to me all the places they’ve been, and the stories they’d been told about the railway. Afterwards, they told me about the graveyard, full of all the prisoners who never made it home, and how many people are buried there, and how very young some of them were. It broke my heart to hear that. They’ve been on the train that those people built the tracks for, they’ve stood on the bridge that was featured in the last scenes. For them, this movie was a collection of the snippets of knowledge that they had, an emotional revealing of what actually happened there. For me, this film was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Colin Firth plays Eric Lomax, a man deeply troubled by the events of his past. Unwilling to talk about the monstrosities that he endured, Lomax is lonely, depressed and suffering from the deep grips of post traumatic stress disorder, the effects of which are portrayed flawlessly by Firth. He is absolutely phenomenal in this film; I’m sure it’s the best work from him that I’ve ever seen – definitely up there with The King’s Speech. When Eric meets Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a train, their relationship soon begin to reveal how deeply affected he is.
Jeremy Irvine portrays a young Eric, the one who experiences all the horrendous treatment, with plausibility and the attitude of someone who is making the best of what little he’s got. Stellan Skarsgård is Finlay, Lomax’s companion from the time they were both held prisoner. Patti convinces Finlay to tell him about their time held captive in Thailand, but Finlay’s knowledge only goes so far. Skarsgård does a good job of being British, and a good job of creating a believable character. Nicole Kidman is completely fantastic, and her chemistry with Firth is realistic and touching.
Throughout the entire film, I was completely captured in the story. It’s really hard to watch humans be so barbaric and know that this all actually happened to someone. The torture scenes were done so well that I felt every hit, every scream. It was horrendous and I hated it, but at the same time, I felt like worshipping Jonathon Teplizky for his stunning direction. It’s a hard film to watch for many reasons, but God, it’s so damn worth it.
I’m going to be thinking about the events of this film for a really long time, I can assure you that. This is not a movie for the weak-hearted, it’s not a film to cheer you up. It’s a very sad tale of a man who has to find peace with himself and what he’s experienced. I get teary when I think about the end of this film, and how incredibly moving the entire thing is. Words simply cannot describe the emotions this film threw upon me, and for that reason, it’s definitely been added to my favorites list. It’s an exceptional film with an exceptional cast and I can’t wait to watch it again.
For fans of… hard-hitting dramas with faultless acting