Film Review: The Railway Man

Ghosts of the past haunt a former British Army officer in Jonathan Teplitzky’s respectful and polished drama.

Based on the best-selling autobiography of Eric Lomax, The Railway Man uses a patchwork of flashbacks to recount the writer’s treatment at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army after the fall of Singapore.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Railway Man. Pictured: Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Lionsgate. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Railway Man. Pictured: Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Lionsgate. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Director Jonathan Teplitzky doesn’t shy away from the most harrowing episodes of Lomax’s story, including a torture sequence which depicts Japanese officers using water-boarding to extract information from their prisoner.Another scene, much closer to home at a Scottish train station, is equally chilling.

While Teplitzky’s picture lands a flurry of punches, it doesn’t quite deliver a knockout blow, even in the final act when Lomax attempts to confront a Japanese officer he holds responsible for the war raging inside his head. Like the smartly dressed man at the story’s centre, the deepest emotions remain tightly buttoned.