Thursday, September 12, 2013

TIFF 2013: The Railway Man (Quite Good)

The Railway Man stars Colin Firth as Eric Lomax, a "railway enthusiast" - he really likes trains - and starts with a sweet quirky romance between him and Patti (Nicole Kidman), whom he of course meets on a train. But after the storybook romance and wedding, Patti discovers all is not well with Eric, who is haunted by what happened to him during WWII. He is haunted by his memories, but will not discuss them with his wife. We see flashbacks of what he endured, as his unit surrendered to the Japanese in Singapore, and were taken north to work on building a railway in the jungles of Thailand, under dismal conditions. Eventually Lomax confronts his past and comes to terms with it.

I liked the film a fair bit, though the story is told in broad strokes, with little in the way of sub-plot. I had trouble understanding how he could be so brave during the war, and yet not be able to talk to his wife about it. We're told repeatedly that what he endured was unimaginable, but in the end that didn't seem to be the case. The transformation that Lomax goes through didn't entirely work for me. Still, the ending was satisfying and brought a tear to my eye. I think the crowd in the theatre liked it a little more than I did.

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