The Railway Man

Art & Culture

The Railway Man is based on a best selling book by Eric Lomax, a man who was captured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942, and treated with unbelievable brutality by his Japanese guards.

35 years after the end of the War, he met and married a woman, who discovered he was suffering from buried trauma, but was unable to discover what was the reason behind it, until a friend who had been with him on the Railway of Death told her some of what happened. (I suspect the role of the wife – played by Nicole Kidman) has been bigged up somewhat for the film, but I haven’t read the book yet, so I can’t be sure.

Lomax is played by Colin Firth who is clearly too young for the role (he would have been 61 at the time the film is set), but that is a forgivable casting decision, since it is a lot easier to get a film made with Firth and Kidman in the cast, and he is such a watchable actor, that he makes the emotional rollercoaster credible. And in the role of the younger Lomax – we spend about half the film watching what actually happened to him during his captivity- Jeremy Irvine is unusually good, even managing to sound like Firth. It is a film that will appeal to a wide audience, combining the cruelty of the Japanese to their prisoners – and this is a matter of history, not racism – the redemption of love, and the healing of reconciliation. If it were not a true story, the film would be cheesy; but it is true, and so it can stand.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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