'The Railway Man' review: Needs to get back to work

'The Railway Man'

'The Railway Man' (April 14, 2014)

**1/2 (out of four)

When self-described “railway enthusiast” Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) meets Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a European train, the chemistry instantly sizzles, “Before Sunrise”-style. They bond over transportation and traveling. She almost immediately gets him to shave his mustache, holding her kisses hostage until he obliges.

What the former nurse can’t get the man she soon marries to do, however, is open up about a traumatic past that sparks terrified visions and violent outbursts. In extended flashback sequences, “The Railway Man” shifts to the Far East in the early ‘40s, when a younger Eric (Jeremy Irvine of “War Horse”) and his fellow English soldiers become WWII POWs and are forced to work on a railway between Thailand and what then was Burma. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the film, based on Lomax’s book of the same name, is based on a true story. Director Jonathan Teplitzky renders wartime footage with reasonable credibility, showcasing the torture that made broken men out of leaders and lingered in Eric’s mind for decades without shoving our faces in agony.

Unfortunately, as often is common with stories like this, “The Railway Man” makes note only of the suffering endured by white faces—despite the participation and death of thousands of Asian railway workers. The film cares more about jumping between Eric’s difficult past and the present, when he shuts out his wife (who mostly disappears from the movie) and discovers that his tormentor, who once insisted “You will be killed shortly,” still is alive. This leads to a relatively standard tracking down of a war criminal destined to be completely regretful or resolutely evil—a thread seen in several films, including “X-Men: First Class”—and a discussion of forgiveness that softens the involuntary memories the film spends so much time explaining.

“The Railway Man” wonders what to do with trauma, and the cast does fine work. But the film struggles to account for the years between then and now. In attempting to suggest a complicated road to recovery, it winds up treating scar tissue as something that ultimately can be packed into a balloon and sent floating away. If only.

Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.



Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.


News Coverage on Maaco Bowl Las Vegas - CTNow
RSS feeds allow Web site content to be gathered via feed reader software. Click the subscribe link to obtain the feed URL for this page. The feed will update when new content appears on this page.

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

A collection of news and information related to Maaco Bowl Las Vegas published by this site and its partners.

Top Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Articles see all

Displaying items 1-5
  • Bobo, Colorado State agree on five-year contract

    The Sports Xchange
  • Utah must lock up staff to build on solid '14 season

    The Sports Xchange Utah must lock up staff to build on solid '14 season Utah's return to a bowl game, with an impressive 42-10 victory in the Las Vegas Bowl over Colorado State on Saturday, signals a return to normalcy in the once-proud program under...

    Utah's Wilson caps season with bowl MVP award

    The Sports Xchange By Steve Guiremand, The Sports Xchange Utah's Wilson caps season with bowl MVP award LAS VEGAS -- Utah quarterback Travis Wilson said he never pictured himself being an MVP of a bowl game back in June. In fact, he was just hoping...

    Recap: Utah 45, Colorado State 10

    SportsDirect Inc. Recap: Utah 45, Colorado State 10 No. 25 Utah 45, Colorado State 10: Quarterback Travis Wilson rushed for 91 yards and three scores and also passed for 158 yards and a touchdown as the Utes used an imposing running game to knock off...

    Utah 45, Colorado State 10

    The Sports Xchange By Steve Guiremand, The Sports Xchange Utah 45, Colorado State 10 LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas Bowl was billed as a matchup pitting Colorado State's high-powered offense and Utah's rugged defense. Someone must have forgotten to tell...