Based on Eric Lomax’s autobiographical novel of the same name, The railway man begins with Eric meeting his soon-to-be wife on a train in 1983. In those early scenes Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman’s display of delicate romanticism is winning us over. The great snappy dialogue helps a lot too. After Eric and Patti’s wedding, he starts having nightmares that are disrupting the couple’s happiness. Since her husband refuses to speak she turn for help to Eric’s friend Finlay (Stellan Skarsgård). Patti learns that during the Second World War Eric and Finlay were British soldiers captured by the Japanese. They were forced to build the Thailand-Burma Railway. Eric was caught trying to build a radio and as a result was brutally tortured and beaten. One of his torturer was young officer Takashi Nagase. Having found Takashi’s location Eric decides to go back to Japan and confront him. This is a beautifully filmed story of reconciliation. What strikes us is what a great cast this is. Firth goes from a man who seems happy to an angry man paralyzed by his memories of the past. And Kidman has never shown such restraints. Kidman is holding back the tears to show Patti’ strenghts. The male cast of supporting players is also impressive. Jeremy Irvine (young Eric), Tanroh Ishida (young Nagase) and Skarsgård are all excellent. But it is Hiroyuki Sanada’s performance as old Nagase that is the revelation her, although he comes later in the film. Quality work from Australian director Jonathan Teplitzky. The last scene taking place on the same train tracks they build in times of war, with its message of ‘no more hate’ is very moving.
The railway man