Colin Firth is the Railway Man

Colin Firth is the Railway Man

Reel Reviews: The Railway Man is an allegory on forgiveness

Colin Firth gives a moving performance as a Second World War veteran who revisits his past.

  • Jun. 22, 2014 9:00 a.m.

Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) is a British Second World War veteran, who spends much of his time with fellow survivors of a Japanese work camp obsessing over his lifelong hobby, trains.

While travelling the rails in England during the 1980s, Lomax meets a lovely divorcee Patti (Nicole Kidman) and the two quickly fall in love. When Lomax begins exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorder, yet doesn’t want to talk about it, his new bride asks her husband’s best friend and former prisoner of war, Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), for help.

Finlay reluctantly explains what happened to Lomax at the Japanese work camp and then offers her what could prove to be the most dangerous cure possible: The opportunity to confront the man who tortured Lomax.

We say, “It’s a moving film about the power of forgiveness.”

TAYLOR: This film snuck up on me. I was on vacation last week and missed the notice that it was playing at the Towne. Luckily, my friend Ryan Nitchie sent me a text saying, “See this film.” I’ve asked him to review it with me, which is especially apropos as he recently returned with his family from a trip to where the film was made.

NITCHIE: I stood in the cut at Hellfire Pass a little over a month ago where the final scene was shot. Through my headset I listened to the voices of Australian POWs tell their tales of hardship, starvation, torture, illness, insects and camaraderie often with a sense of humour, but with a painful undertone.

Seeing Lomax’ character brilliantly portrayed by Firth brought to life an unimaginable experience.

TAYLOR: Going in blind, I knew absolutely nothing about the story, which is, in my opinion, the best way to see a film. So at first I thought this was going to be a cute story about an elderly couple who likes trains. Within 30 minutes, I knew something deeper and darker was afoot. Within an hour, I became concerned that the film was going into unbelievable territory, (I didn’t know it was a true story.) However, by the end, I was convinced I had just witnessed an amazing story and the fact that it is true actually restored a bit of my waning faith in human worth.

NITCHIE: Firth’s portrayal of Lomax is brilliant and Kidman’s portrayal of Patti must have had a deeply emotional patriotic sentiment for her. The research completed at the Jeath and Death museums in Kanchanaburi pay off as the POW scenes along the Kwai River are historically accurate. The story is powerful as one can see how anger, resentment, hatred and pain could drive someone mad, but Lomax chooses to take the ultimate high road and instead he affects revenge in the most powerfully humane way, kindness and forgiveness.

– Taylor gives The Railway Man 4 aces out of 5.

– Nitchie gives it 4.5 mosquito bites out of 5.

The film is currently playing at the Vernon Towne Cinema.