review – the railway man


This is a war movie and so there are moments in here as inhumanely cruel as any you’ve ever seen; but Nicole Kidman is also in here and she transforms this movie from just being about the enduring pain of war into being also about the life-changing power of love. This is the true story of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a British officer in World War II, one of the thousands of Allied prisoners of war forced to work on the construction of the Thai/Burma railway under the cruel oversight of the Japanese army. Lomax has endured things too difficult to share. And the man he associates with all of his pain is an interpreter named Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada). Years after the war ended, Lomax goes to sleep at night dreaming of revenge, sleeping better when he hears Nagase screaming in pain.

When an article in a newspaper shows Nagase alive and well and leading tourists through the former prison camp, Lomax is compelled to go back, confront his tormentor. He has the memories and the motivation; he has a sharp knife and a stronger sense of resolve; justice will finally be done. This is a story of two men connected by dark times and desperate acts, a story told with an understanding of what it takes to be cruel, but what it requires to be human. There are moments in here that will stop your heart, bring a tear to your eye, a gasp to your throat, a chill to your spine. There are also scenes that are too long, redundant, filled with extraneous details. It’s not a perfect movie, but oh the chemistry and the magic of the performances! Firth and Kidman – he with his emotional intensity and she with her gentle warmth and persistent attention to the man “I love and I want back” – make this a movie that will stick in your mind and in your heart long after the real Lomax and Nagase (shown in the final scenes) disappear from the screen.