The Railway Man review by Tarek Fayoumi


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With being a fan of Colin Firth’s films, “The Railway Man” is another film that starts out slow but then turns out being incredible. “The Railway Man” is based on the true story of the former British Officer Eric Lomax (Firth) who was forced to work on the construction of the Thai/Burmai railway in World War II. Year later Lomax’s memories start to come back and haunt him. It would definitely be challenging to go back to places where one remembers being tortured. To be left traumatized, to haunt his loved one Patti (played by Nicole Kidman), but above all the biggest fear…discovering the young Japanese officer that was involved in the group that beat him and tortured him. The war was very dramatic for the world and had a bunch of relief when it was over. Today though, there are still many elements that haunt people who have experienced the war.

“The Railway Man” focuses on the life of Eric Lomax. He is well known for building a secret radio to bring information to his colleagues about how the Japanese may plan their attacks in the war. With this secret getting out to the Japanese however, caused them to make Eric their target for information. Years after, he meets the girl Patti on the train and immediately falls in love. She loves him to and they both are married. She is aware of Eric’s harsh memories that he cannot get off his mind. Once Eric experiences the Railway and all of a sudden runs into the Young Japanese Officer years later (his name is Nagase), Eric feels compelled to torture Nagase the way Nagase tortured him years ago.

“The Railway Man” is a well-done film for a director that is still relatively new, which is Jonathan Teplitzky. For a film that is that is an hour and fifty-six minutes in length, he is able to make “The Railway Man” artistic in the sense of timing. Teplitzky uses compressed time to speed up the story of the film. Therefore the events were placed in proper order to not lose the main point of Eric’s perspective of his life. Eric and Patti met in 1980 on a railway train, in real life though, their marriage did not take place until 1983. Eric did not realize that Nagase was not alive in 1993, then he met him in 1995. Teplitzky’s chronological order of events is fast which is the only downside because I would have liked some more background on the characters of this movie.

There were two screenplay writers involved with “Railway Man” and they were Andy Paterson (also the producer of “Railway Man” and produced “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”), the other writer is Frank Cottrell Boyce (writer of the film “Millions” which I love). Both writers are talented with writing where so many scenes are happening at once in a movie. I remember from “Millions” there is a scene where the boys encounter millions of dollars and then it transitions to them doing shopping at a variety of stores and then transitions back to them collecting more money. “The Railway Man” has this artistic style but done for more dramatic effect.

I want to explain more on how the flashback scenes in “Railway Man” hold viewers attention. Eric remembers being locked in a cage and beaten with a stick. As Eric remembers this happening to him he literally has the same setup as how the Japanese Officers did to hurt him, however this time he is feeling the need to torture Nagase but struggles. We see the agony of Eric in his eyes where he feels he wants to kill Nagase but at the same time knows that he is not a person that kills. Years later, Eric and Nagase become friends and stay in touch. 

Firth’s performance is more worthy than Kidman’s to be honest. Kidman was not really in the film that much I feel. Overall though both characters look good together in this drama.

“Railway Man” is one to be seen definitely. Especially since it is a true story. Lacks in the opening and the background of the characters, but thirty minutes into the movie becomes amazing. I will say it deserves at least three stars.

 

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