The Railway Man' evokes veteran sentiments
By Anita Yang, The China Post
June 13, 2014, 3:39 am TWN
Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, "The Railway Man" is an adaptation of the autobiography of Eric Lomax, a former British Army officer who suffered post-war traumatic stress syndrome after his terrible experience in a Japanese labor camp during World War II. The film stars Colin Firth (Eric), Nicole Kidman (Patti), Hiroyuki Sanada (Takeshi Nagase) and Jeremy Irvine (young Eric).
The story itself has been retold several times, both on screen and on paper. For those who haven't seen any other adaptations, "The Railway Man" certainly is worth a watch. Heart-wrenching scenes throughout the film will cause you to cover your eyes and start questioning humanity and all the consequences of war. The storyline constantly switches between Lomax's past in the camp and the present day, with two sets of actors playing the same people, which makes the film slightly confusing at the beginning.
Starting with Lomax's death in 2012, the movie then goes back to a veterans club in the 1980s. It is then that audiences start slowly to figure out how railways are tightly interwoven with Lomax's life and how he is a railway enthusiast.
Nicole Kidman's character infuses Lomax's veteran life with a new spring love. Romance doesn't last long, however, soon after the couple get married, Patti finds out how Lomax is deeply traumatized and she is blocked out completely from the secret past of her husband's early life. No matter how hard she tries to get involved, somehow she seems to be a bystander who can't do much to help. While Kidman's role doesn't require too much strenuous acting, Firth's interpretation of Lomax is quite fresh compared to his previous roles. In the movie, you will see how Firth portrays Lomax as a man filled with hatred and bitterness and who is haunted by his past. His volatile emotions toward people around him and even his beloved wife Patti are jarring and surprising for moviegoers. His gloominess and wounded life finally reach a kind of closure after he encounters the Japanese soldier who savagely tortured him so long ago.
Overall, "The Railway Man" covers different aspects of the life of veterans. Those parts of history that cause the suffering of so many people serving their country are gradually forgotten with time and, for most people, it seems distant. However, the movie might arouse some self-reflection and thinking since war is still an ongoing phenomenon nowadays.