The Railway Man ★★★
American critics thought this story, based on fact, about a British army officer’s torture, suffering and later attempt to face his demons was too “understated”. Understatement, like irony, is something Americans don’t understand but this time they were right. The film is understated and all the better for it. It’s the story, told partly in flashback, of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth on fine form), who was captured by the Japanese in 1942, forced to work on the notorious Burma Railway and so savagely tortured that he is haunted by the memories for decades. In middle age he meets and marries Nicole Kidman. They’re happy enough but he is still plagued by depression and nightmares until he learns that his chief tormentor (Tanroh Ishida) is still alive, and determines to confront him and try finally to end the bitterness and hatred he feels. It’s a well-told tale that shuns gung-ho heroics and builds to a moving and perhaps unexpected dénouement.
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