The Railway Man

DRAMA; 1hr 56min

STARRING: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jeremy Irvine

Tortured soul: Firth

Sounding a gentle note of hope, The Railway Man begins with railroad fanatic and former prisoner-of-war Eric Lomax (Firth) meeting the woman who will become his wife (Kidman as Patti) on a train in 1980. Their encounter is playful and light, but this isn’t that kind of love story. The torture that Eric endured while working on the Thai-Burma “Death Railway” has left him psychologically flayed. War is still all over him in a suffocating second skin. Patti, who was a nurse and is no quitter, never considers giving up, supporting her husband in his life-changing confrontation of the Japanese officer (Sanada) who continues to mentally torment him.


Much of the story, adapted from Eric Lomax’s memoir and directed with patent respect by Jonathan Teplitzky, is told in gruelling flashbacks, with Irvine valiantly evoking young Eric. As the tortured husk Eric becomes, Firth’s ominous power lies in his containment. There’s no telling what an unimaginably brutalised victim might do to the man responsible. But to be truly freed from his ceaseless pain and rage, the man Eric must also face up to is himself.