Oscar Winner Colin Firth Lends His Usual Gravitas to Role of Damaged Veteran
King, Randall, Winnipeg Free Press
IN wartime, soldiers are often pigeonholed according to nationality. The British soldier could be defined by his discipline and "stiff upper lip." The Japanese soldier, conversely, could be feared for his rigidly held sense of honour and sacrifice.
An adaptation of a true story, director Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man takes a wrecking ball to those comforting, illusory stereotypes in the story of Second World War veteran Eric Lomax.
Played in his middle age by Colin Firth, Lomax is a solitary man who, in the early '80s, whiles away his time indulging his fascination with railway travel -- trains, timetables and maps all committed to memory.
Other memories are submerged but not quite buried. Hence, Lomax is the picture of the affable, civilized English gentleman when he meets recently divorced nurse Patti (Nicole Kidman)... on a train, naturally.
The two fall in love and get married, to the amusement of some of Eric's few wartime friends, including their former ringleader, Finlay (Stellan Skarsgaard), dubbed "Uncle" by his cohorts.
But in the intimacy of marriage, Eric's issues reveal themselves in increasingly strange behaviour, including hallucinations of the traumas he suffered as a young man (Jeremy Irvine) while a prisoner of the Japanese. Ironically, Lomax spent that time as a slave labourer helping construct the Burma-Siam Railway. …