The Railway Man is a film that will render you speechless. Colin Firth’s character Eric Lomax begins the tale as a man of few words due to his tormented past. The audience are left to piece the story together with abrupt flashbacks, which at points feel like you are viewing a combination of two film tapes that have become entangled.
One follows a young Lomax as a World War II British officer during the fall of Singapore, while the other depicts a broken and damaged man whose haunting past seeps into his marriage with Patti Wallace (Nicole Kidman). We first meet Lomax as the greying prisoner of war who spends his time tracking railway timetables in search of memorabilia. This is where he meets Patti, a gently humorous woman who seems to harmonise Lomax’s dark memories. However, Lomax is still mentally at war and there’s one final battle on the cards.
Based on a true story, we follow Lomax on his cathartic journey to find peace through a return to the scene of his torture, which is, at points, torturous to watch. In Thailand, we find Nagase, the chilling figure that haunts Lomax’s mind who has managed to evade punishment for his war crimes. The film leads to the climactic meeting of Lomax with his torturer, many troubled years after the war. With an old war knife gripped tightly in Lomax’s fist, the audience and Nagase are engulfed by his battle with his conscience and sense of justice.
Colin Firth’s performance is both heart-warming and heartbreaking; it is hard to believe that this is the same man in chick flick Bridget Jones. The British actor has been on a roll with parts in films such as A Single Man and The King’s Speech, with The Railway Man now up there with the best of his performances. Firth is beautifully cast as Lomax, who we follow on an immensely powerful tale, illuminating stories of World War II that have not been explored before. It is one of those rare films where you find yourself sitting through the end credits just to enable reality to sink back in. A must see.