(Australia/UK - 2013; US release 2014)
Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky. Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson. Cast: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine, Sam Reid, Tanroh Ishida. (R, 107 mins)
Based on Eric Lomax's acclaimed memoir of his time spent in a Japanese prison camp after the fall of Singapore during WWII and his later efforts to track down the officer who tortured him, THE RAILWAY MAN offers fine performances and harrowing depictions of war crimes, but sometimes suffers from hokey dialogue and too often emits a "Weinstein Company awards bait" vibe. The script by frequent Michael Winterbottom collaborator Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson takes some occasionally questionable liberties with Lomax's story, but overall, it's a solid film that succeeds more often than it stumbles, and gets an immense boost from a quietly powerful performance by Colin Firth as Lomax.
Burma Railway (part of this railroad was the centerpiece of the 1957 classic THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI). All the men were tortured and treated with barbaric cruelty by the captors, none more than Lomax, who was caught with a secretly-built radio used for listening to British broadcasts. His captors insist it was an instrument for secret communication, and though he endures extensive beatings and all manner of torture overseen by Kempeitai officer Nagase (Tanroh Ishida), Lomax never gives in. Back in 1980, Lomax's psychological torment threatens his marriage and his sanity until Finlay alerts him to a Kempetai historical museum located at the very camp where they were prisoners, and the museum is run by none other than Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada).