The Railway Man - Blu-ray Review

'Firth's ability to quietly control his performances is under-rated in its power, on show for all here.'

Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man might be a bit buttoned down for some (though not to the degree of, say, Unbroken), but its story wins out in the end as a well-poised and interesting portrayal of post-war mental anguish, forgiveness and more.

Colin Firth's Eric Lomax is a 'train enthusiast, not a train spotter', struggling to overcome his experiences in a Japanese labour camp during World War Two. Eric's mental anguish is brought to the fore when a Brief Encounters-esque meeting sets him on a romance with Patti (Nicole Kidman), who enlists Eric's old comrade 'Uncle' (Stellan Skarsgård) for help.

There are few surprises in store from then on out, though Skarsgård's impact on the narrative is unexpected, but that doesn't mean there is no worth in the ideas Teplitzky and screenwriters Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson bring to Lomax's autobiography. Lomax's war is one spent almost entirely away from the fighting. Present at the surrender of Singapore, a young Eric (an impressive Jeremy Irvine) is transported to a prison camp where his work is more mental than physical. Though Teplitzky lingers little on the consideration, there is a juxtaposition process happening here with Lomax's pride at and interest in his creation and the shame and brutality of the camp.

The clash of all of the film's ideas takes place during the final third, which finally sees Firth externalise his internal tumult, to supreme effect. Firth's ability to quietly control his performances is under-rated in its power, on show for all here.

The let down is perhaps the relationship between Teplitzky's dramatisation of the past and his presentation of the future. The balance is here, but somehow there seems a great detachment between the two times. Lomax in the present, for example, hardly ever refers to any part of the past; nothing about the railway building, or his comrades. Each works individually, but The Railway Man as a whole is somewhat muted by both its reservedness and the lack of coherence and communication between its stories.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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