A terrific true story is oddly underplayed in this sober, sedate drama about reconciliation and making peace with the past. Strikingly complex performances from Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman help give the film some deeper resonance, even if even it all seems rather under-powered. But the force of emotion in the events makes the film worth a look.
In 1980 Scotland, railway expert Eric (Firth) has defined his entire life by trains. During the Second World War, he was captured by the Japanese and put into forced-labour to build a railway in Thailand. And more recently he met his wife Patti (Kidman) on a train journey. But their marriage starts to collapse when Eric refuses to face up to his torture at the hands of his wartime captors all those years ago, so Patti turns to his war-veteran pal Finlay (Skarsgard) for help. Eventually, Eric makes the difficult decision to return to Thailand and confront his tormenter Nagase (Sanada).
A more Hollywood-style film would play out as a build-up to roaring vengeance, but director Teplitzky internalises the tone, showing us past events in extensive flashbacks as the young Eric and Finlay (Irvine and Reid) try to subvert the young Nagase (Ishida) at every turn. These scenes are eerily tame as well, and only reveal the true horror of Eric's experience when he finally faces up to it himself. Instead, the focus is on his struggle to forgive Nagase, and this gives the film a strongly moving punch.
Continue reading: The Railway Man Review
The film tries to simultaneously be a quiet personal story of guilt and grief and a muted cautionary thriller of government selfishness and compromise. But the mystery and intrigue only serve to distract from the central story and blunt its emotional impact. There is a way to convincingly and engagingly tell both sides of this story: by putting them in different movies with different styles and objectives.
Continue reading: Incendiary Review
Unlike the romanticized "starving artist," Vermeer's household (in 1600s Netherlands) was extremely well-off, though little much else is known about him. Based on the popular novel, the film imagines the circumstances that might have led to the creation of Vermeer's most famous painting, "The Girl with a Pearl Earring," produced in 1665.
Continue reading: Girl with a Pearl Earring Review
The true story of the Du Pre sisters, we get to see them grow up and become famous musicians. Hilary (Griffiths) ends up opting out of the limelight to raise kids and chickens in the country. Jackie (Watson) goes all-out in her quest to be a solo cellist, and of course, she goes totally bonkers before too long.
Continue reading: Hilary and Jackie Review
Merivel, the kind of guy who pawns his medical instruments to buy time with prostitutes, starts out as a pretty loathsome chap. However, he's also a pretty talented (and daring) physician, and after healing the King's beloved spaniel, he is brought into the fold of nobility. But the story then takes an inexplicable turn as Merivel is given a knighthood and coerced to marry the King's mistress, Celia (Polly Walker), and then promptly falls in love with her.
Continue reading: Restoration Review