REVIEW — “The Railway Man”
It’s not every day you get to learn WHILE being entertained in a theater, but “The Railway Man” is one of those moments. A powerful, and true, story mixed with excellent chemistry, dynamic character interaction, and top shelf acting makes for one hell of an early start to Oscar Season 2015.
The only issue I had as far as acting goes in this was Nicole Kidman. She brought nothing to the film, and could have been swapped out with almost any other actress worth a damn, and she wouldn’t have been missed at all. Her character as a whole proves to be solely a plot device. While Colin Firth, of course, dominated yet another character, and Stellan Skarsgard delivered everything we’ve come to expect from such a talented man, I think the real scene stealer was Hiroyuki Sanada. Despite only being in the last 20 minutes or so of the flick he packed one helluva punch. He brought so much depth and emotion, and showed so much range, that I can see him easily getting more key roles on Hollywood in the future (instead of being “that angry Asian guy” from “The Wolverine” and “The Last Samurai”).
Based on a book by the lead character, Eric Lomax, writers Frank Boyce and Andy Paterson were really able to capture the key moments to this man’s struggle. From his issues with social interaction, to his struggles with PTSD, and down to his internal fight over revenge vs. forgiveness the writers managed to capture it all without dragging it out too much. While things started off slow the story quickly found its footing, and it became an emotionally gripping drama until the end.
I was a big fan of how they managed to intertwine the two timelines as a way of showing what happened instead of having to hear someone talk about it, and the younger cast did an exceptional job as well. They needed to find a way to make it a little more obvious which younger characters were playing which older characters as for me, and some other audience members, it became difficult to keep track of who was who outside of the main character.
I strongly believe “The Railway Man,” if remembered 8 months from now by audiences, could prove to be an Oscar contender. It certainly fits the bill for any of the main categories (except for best actress/supporting actress). With a tragic story, excellent cast, and powerful and emotionally gripping finale this is definitely a must see. 4.5/5