Based on the autobiography (“The Railway Man”) by Erik Lomax, an Englishman, engineer, captured and tortured by the Japanese after their conquest of Singapore in 1942. It is a tale worth telling and watching.
Colin Firth, as “Lomax” gives a sensitive, at times melodramatic, depiction of a man suffering from the devastating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; a centuries old affliction, minimally addressed until post Vietnam. The horrors of suppressed atrocities claims the mental and physical health of countless victims; war is a catastrophic weapon maiming, not only the combatants, but all who touch their lives; families, relationships mutilated by horrific carnage.
In 1980 Erik Lomax meets “Patti Wallace” (Nicole Kidman) who is the catalyst for recovery. The film flows rhythmically from the present to the past, covering the overwhelming persecution visited upon British prisoners of war. Jeremy Irvine gives a genuine and prescient depiction of the young Lomax; those who missed “Zero Dark Thirty” will witness the inhumane consequences of water-boarding; how the beaten, abused, violated Lomax survived, is astounding.
His demonic persecutor “Takashi Nagase” (Hiroyuki Sanada/Tanroh Ishidi) has monopolized Lomax’s nightmares for decades; crippled by hatred and revenge “The Railway Man” shines with the confrontation between the two men, after Lomax discovers his adversary’s lair, learns of his repentance, retribution.
Erik Lomax’s fascination with railroads commenced in his youth; informed his detention (Japan brutally forced the prisoners to build the Burma railroad) and his serendipitous encounter with Patti.
The heart of the film, directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, encompasses man’s capacity to forgive; discovering honor, integrity, peace in the act; cauterizing the poisonous, diseased, enervating repercussions of hatred. Erik Lomax, at the age of 93, died a fulfilled and content man.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!