Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Film: The Railway Man

The Railway Man is an okay film but I can't recommend it as cinema viewing because it is a too depressing, both in terms of being a story more about suffering than forgiveness, and in terms of the grey, dull, seaside town scenery. I appreciate how the shots of the dreary British seaside and general damp weather added to the mood, but they did make the movie feel overly drawn out.

To highlight what you are getting into with The Railway Man, actor Colin Firth nails it in this quote, 'I think what is not often addressed is the effect over time. We do sometimes see stories about what it's like coming home from war, we very rarely see stories about what it's like decades later. This is not just a portrait of suffering. It's about relationships ... how that damage interacts with intimate relationships, with love.'  So, if you are in the mood for something along these lines, the Railway Man will fit the bill.
The movie comes to life when we see flashbacks of the young Eric Lomax, played by Colin Firth, as a prisoner of war in a Singapore-based Japanese camp. Unfortunately, he is being tortured in most of these scenes, but at least the weather looks nice (seriously, there has to be something positive to focus on!). The end of the movie is very good, however, and the fact that it's a true story does make you wonder about a man's role and in war and the culpability of a person in extreme circumstances. Also, it's worth mentioning that Finlay, the older unit leader character, gives an interesting short speech to Lomax's wife (played by Nicole Kidman, who doesn't have much to do in the while movie beyond looking concerned and worried, kind of as she does in the poster), in which he uses a great metaphor when he describes the his group of war veterans as ghosts, as "mimes singing in a choir". I hadn't heard this before and think it captures perfectly how a personal shock can lead to people just going through the motions of life without actually living.


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