The Railway Man 2013 ***

The true and extraordinary story of Eric Lomax, a Scot who survived World War Two at the sharp end of a Japanese POW camp, should make for a compelling film; Jonathan Teplitzky’s drama falls short of the mark. The problem is largely structural; an eighties set plotlines finds Lomax (Colin Firth) wrestling with extreme PTSD despite the loving care of his wife (Nicole Kidman). This should probably only have accounted for a fifth of the film, but due to the heavyweight cast, takes up half the picture. The flashback scenes, with Jeremy Irvine as the young Lomax, are far more compelling, and get directly to grips with the subject of Lomax’s book. The final message about war and forgiveness still packs an emotional punch, but it’s not because of the tortuous storytelling featured in The Railway Man, but the extraordinary actions of Lomax himself.


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