The Railway Man (Firth)

Colin Firth dazzles yet again in prisoner of war drama.

Colin Firth brings the remarkable true story of POW Eric Lomax to the screen in the emotive, if frustratingly formal telling of The Railway Man. Lomax was a lifelong train enthusiast, who suffered unspeakable torture after the fall of Singapore in 1942, during his internment on the Burma-Thailand ‘Death Railway’. Jeremy Irvine plays the young Lomax, and it is a credit to the strength of both performances that the emotional scars inflicted on him are so palpably translated by Firth. Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgård, both raise the stakes playing Lomax’s desperately confronted new
wife and fellow POW survivor respectively. And finally, Tanroh Ishida and particularly Hiroyuki Sanada are commendable in their portrayal of Lomax’s Japanese tormentor, Nagase.


After impressing with immolating grief in Burning Man, Jonathan Teplitzky again proves himself to be a filmmaker with a unique talent for tapping into the oft hidden depths of male emotion. Herein lie the glimmers of heartrending greatness The Railway Man has to offer, but they are too often hampered by the film’s flashback structure. After a tantalising Brief Encounter “meet cute”, Kidman is largely relegated to the structural sidelines: providing moments for exposition and the accompanying WWII scenes. Still, almost all is absolved by the fragile perfection of the film’s final moment of forgiveness.

This article appeared in the December 2013 issue of Limelight Magazine.

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The Railway Man (Firth)
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4 out of 5
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