The Railway Man

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BY LE LE MAC

The Railway Man is an interweaving film that tells the compelling story of how a Prisoner of War overcomes his traumatic experience of being in captivity. The story develops as we see the young Eric Lomax (Jeremy Irvine) experience torture by Japanese officers during the making of the Death Railway (Thai-Burma Railway) in WWII.

We also see this story progress with the character development of the current day Eric Lomax (Colin Firth). We see Firth’s character change many times, with him going from being a lonely, awkward middle-aged man, to a man who charmingly courts Patti (Nicole Kidman), woman he met on a train, then back to a tortured man whose psyche falls back into his traumatic flashbacks. Eventually he becomes a cold, distanced man who cannot talk about his past to anyone, even to his wife Patti, but finally finds the courage to  overcome his past wounds.

With the encouragement of his loving wife, Lomax finds his peace by confronting his tormentor, a Japanese Officer named Nagase, who is played by the young Tanroh Ishida and and Hiroyuki Sanada. The audience also gets to witness the unwrapping of Nagase’s character over the generations displayed in this film. It was a pleasure to watch the actors bring Lomax and Nagase’s characters to life with rich and complex characterization.

What’s astounding about The Railway Man is that it’s a true story. Not only does this story educate us about The Death Railway and the brutality that was used to make this path of transportation, but it’s also a touching story about love, courage, strength and compassion.

I personally look forward to this film’s major theatrical release. I guarantee that you will shed a tear or two and be more optimistic about your own life.

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Snippets from the cast and crew at the post-screening Q&A at TIFF:

  • The real life Patti Lomax, who attended the screening, on finding out who was cast to play Eric Lomax in The Railway Man: “Eric held up the Daily Telegraph and saw Colin Firth on the front page and thought, ‘Oh, he made it to the front page. We must’ve gotten someone famous!’”
  • Irvine explaining how he felt during the torture scenes: “There was foam on the stick, but it was still a stick.”
  • Ishida on wanting to work with his idol, Hiroyuki Sanada: “When I first met Sanada, I said to him that I would love to play the role of his son someday and was excited to find out that I get to play his younger self in this film!”
  • Eric Lomax got to be on set for the making of this film, but he unfortunately died at the age of 91 before seeing the whole film come to life. Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman visited him before he passed away.

The Railway Man plays Thursday, Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. at the Visa Screening Room. 

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