Colin Firth is one of my favorite actors. We had been seeing trailers about this film for months now. When Railway Man finally came to a theater, it was on our agenda and yesterday we saw it.
Let me get some things out there first of all. It is dark - in filming, dreary colors, the dreary UK, dark rooms, gloomy moods, cloudy coasts. And there is torture and violence in the film that is not for the faint at heart. Jonathan Tepiltzky, the director, did not spare the audience the torment British soldiers faced. This is no spoiler, if you have seen the trailer you know this much.
Nicole Kidman, not my favorite, gives the role of a lifetime. My hat is off to her. She carries her part of the film well as Patti, Eric's wife. If anything she provides a breath of air, of light and a vibrancy of color to the otherwise dreary landscape. And, Jeremy Irvine, who plays the younger Eric is excellent and should not be overlooked. Of course Colin Firth as the older Eric plays the role of the broken, emotionally scarred veteran with that quiet brooding he does so well. There are many pregnant silent close ups of his face that speak volumes. Just his visage, his eyes say more than any lines could be written for the scene.
The story unfolds in a way that has all your questions are answered in due time. You are never hanging, asking, "What about . . .?" or "What happened to . . .?" Like a train, for 116 minutes you are on track, in no hurry, as you begin to see the effect the war had on Eric. Although he was freed from captivity at the end of the war, flashbacks tell the story of the demons that still hold him.
The beautiful part is that the story is true, the film is well done, the screen play is well written, and when you walk out of the theater you cannot help but think, "God, why do have the atrocities of war?"