The Railway Man

Depressing Dramas Don’t Make For Good Adieus

After having the perfect family dinner to say farewell to my dad going on a business trip, having a film to finish off a beautiful evening of drinks, food, and some family bickering seems like a good idea, yes?

That is, if you choose the right film.

Really, if we wanted to keep up our joyful festivities, choosing a film like Zoolander or an episode of Only Fools and Horses would have made for a more light-hearted affair, but seeing as The Railway Man was collecting dust on our watch-list, we steam-rolled straight into it without a moment’s thought.

I guess one thing I got from this film was a lot of factual knowledge of WW2. The railways aren’t your Thomas the Tank-Engine route. However artistic license once again overruled realism (see 12 Years a Slave review). When a “war-torn” landscape only shows the top of a palm tree is on fire like a candle on a Victoria Sponge while the actual landscape remains unscathed is unknown to me.

The film does suffer from some exaggerated adaptation side-effects, like a very questionable suicide, where I can’t fathom I don’t know why it was added, only to wake up the audience from the slow pacing.

But on the other hand, I liked the slow and subtle unfurling of Colin Firth’s character, Eric Lomax. The film has a theme of what lies under the surface of a person, and you start to be drawn into asking what had happened to Lomax. Nicole Kidman plays Patti Lomax whose curiosity draws her to this mystery man. She becomes the caring wife who just wants to help her husband.

And she’s absolutely stupid. Yes, I go back to my rant. The writers really need to check over their work. Firstly, it dumbfounds me that Patti is oblivious to Lomax’s hidden past until after she’s signed the contract to be stuck with him ’til death. And the hidden room. And the books depicting half-dead men. Lomax has no PTSD-like qualities until after he’s signed the contract to be stuck with Patti ’til death. Even when he’s cooking rice to perfection, and we as the audience all know why, that doesn’t trigger even a hint of anxiety? No, that would be silly.


While The Railway Man has heart-warming performances from Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, and Tanroh Ishida, it suffers from slow pacing and frequent plot-holes. While expertly showing the many layers of Lomax’s character, he lives in a world of half-hearted writers who take the “artsy” approach… If “artsy” is giving characters suicidal thoughts.

This is very different from my previous reviews, but this is the route I’m taking. The quality won’t be great yet, but I’m going to enjoy the learning curve. See you all Sunday.