The Railway Man (2013)
Watched via Netflix BluRay February 2015
3.5 out of 5 stars
Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia):
During World War II, Eric Lomax (Firth) is a British officer who is captured by the Japanese in Singapore and sent to a Japanese POW camp where he is forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway north of the Malay Peninsula. During his time in the camp as one of the Far East Prisoners of War, Lomax is tortured by the Kempetai for building a radio receiver from spare parts. This is apparently due to his falling under suspicion of being a spy for supposedly using the British news broadcast receiver as a transmitter of military intelligence. His only intention, in fact, had been to use the device as a morale booster for himself and his fellow prisoner-slaves. The torture depicted includes beatings and waterboarding.
Years later and still suffering the psychological trauma of his wartime experiences, with the help of his wife Patti (Kidman) and best friend Finlay (Skarsgård), Lomax (Firth) decides to find and confront one of his captors who had escaped prosecution as a war criminal. He returns to the scene of his torture after he has tracked down Japanese officer Takashi Nagase (Sanada) “in an attempt to let go of a lifetime of bitterness and hate”.
I believe I put this movie in my Netflix queue upon finishing the book Judy back in late November. The book told a more horrific story of the British POWs held by Japan after the fall of Singapore, but the movie did a fine job of showing the human cost to all involved.
I had a vague feeling of unease upon completing the movie. Did I just imagine that the main character played by Colin Firth became a Christ figure? Was this intentional? If so, it smacks of hubris. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it. I don’t mind movies that subtly preach redemption and forgiveness, but I get creeped out if the protagonist believes himself worthy to be like the Christ. I’m probably over analyzing an otherwise good film. Firth, Kidman and my favorite Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, all delivered great performances.