Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Friday, January 17, 2014

Advance Movie Review: The Railway Man

I received passes to attend an advance screening of The Railway Man in Manhattan Tuesday night. This was apparently a very big deal screening as, while the movie has been out in Europe for a few months now, it doesn't yet have a U.S. release date. Even Harvey Weinstein was there; seeing him (credit where credit is due, I didn't notice him at all until my girlfriend pointed him out) was pretty exciting for a movie buff like me. I'm not going to spoil the movie in any way because, one, I feel like it's kind of rude to spoil a flick when you're seeing it for free at an advance screening, it's kind of disrespectful; and two, they said this was still a workprint version of the film so there might be changes made to it before its official U.S. release.

What I will say about the film is that, as I saw it, The Railway Man is a pretty damn good film. It's based on the true story of Eric Lomax, a soldier in the British army during World War II whose unit is captured by Japanese soldiers after the surrender of Singapore and forced to work on building the Burma Railway for them. It's a traumatizing experience for them, and the movie picks up after he gets married and begins to relive the horrifying experiences of torture he went through.

Again, not going to spoil anything, so I'll stop there and say that the movie is very well-written and directed, but what sells it is the cast. As Lomax, Colin Firth is outstanding, and Jeremy Irvine, who plays the younger version of Lomax in the flashback scenes, does a very good job as well, despite being overshadowed by his older and more experienced co-star. Stellan Skarsgard is almost as good as well, playing an old army buddy of Lomax' who went through at least some of the same experiences. I can't say much about Hiroyuki Sanada without spoilers, but I will say he was really good in his role as well. If you, like me, have no idea who he is when I say his name, well, perhaps this will jog your memory:

The surprising weak spot in the cast was Nicole Kidman as Lomax' new wife. Her role calls for a fair amount of pathos as a loving wife who has no idea what is going on with her husband and who is scared and concerned... but hers is just a monotonous one-note performance that displays no emotion of any sort. She was clearly phoning it in, and I have no idea why, or even how she could be that bad surrounded b the talent she was.

In the end, The Railway Man is a powerful, well-written, beautifully directed, and for the most part amazingly acted movie about the horrors of war and the psychological traumas they cause and it is also, ultimately, about forgiveness and the power of the human spirit. I sound corny, I know, but it's absolutely true, and if any of that sounds like your cup of tea, I highly recommend this movie.


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