Blu-ray Review: The Railway Man

Forgiveness is a hell of a thing. Sometimes the most difficult thing to do in the world is to forgive a man of his sins, even those committed against you in the fog of war. That’s what Eric Lomax was able to do with Takashi Nagase, an interpreter who had overseen part of some brutal torture of Lomax during his internship by the Japanese during World War II. The book “The Railway Man” focused on Lomax’s fairly extraordinary story as Lomax and Nagase wound up becoming good friends many years after the fact, both men trying to come to terms with the trauma in their lives.

When we meet Lomax (Colin Firth) he’s a middle-aged railway aficionado who has just met the love of his life (Nicole Kidman). He can’t come to terms with what happened to him in the war, which we see in flashbacks, and it’s starting to affect everything he does. With the suicide of his best friend (Stellan Skarsgard), Lomax decides he needs to confront a man he feels escaped punishment: the interpreter, Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada), who evaded prosecution for war crimes at the end of the Second World War.

It becomes a way for both men to come to grips with their traumatic past and the film covers something you rarely see in film. It’s about the trauma after decades of adjustment, about the scars that cover up the wounds. It’s an interesting take on the subject but it’s not a brilliant one. It’s marginally a mediocre one and it’s mainly because of the film’s direction.

Jonathan Teplitzky doesn’t have the best resume and this is another in a limited resume of fairly mediocre films. The Railway Man takes a very intriguing concept, and a number of highly talented actors, and doesn’t do all that much with it. Colin Firth is capable of brilliance and he isn’t pushed to bring out his best; this is a film that has so much to say but only grunts when it should be speaking eloquently. It’s emotionally powerful in spite of itself; the material is good it’s just it’s not told very well.

There’s a commentary track and a brief EPK making of piece.

The Weinstein Company presents The Railway Man . Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky. Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson based off the novel “The Railway Man” by Eric Lomax. Starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Hioryuki Sanada. Running time: 116 minutes. Rated R . Released: August 12, 2014.

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