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The Railway Man (2013)



Average Rating: 6.5/10
Reviews Counted: 60
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 19

Understated to a fault, The Railway Man transcends its occasionally stodgy pacing with a touching, fact-based story and the quiet chemistry of its stars.


Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 8

Understated to a fault, The Railway Man transcends its occasionally stodgy pacing with a touching, fact-based story and the quiet chemistry of its stars.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 6,574

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on the remarkable bestselling autobiography, THE RAILWAY MAN tells the extraordinary and epic true story of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II. Decades later, Lomax and his beautiful love interest Patti (Nicole Kidman) discover that the Japanese interpreter responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and set out to confront him, and his haunting past, in this powerful and inspiring




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All Critics (60) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (19)

A morally admirable but dramatically inert case of high-minded reconciliation ...

April 14, 2014 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Firth is very good at playing racked men of high principle.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Throughout his career, Firth repeatedly has proven himself to be a master at steadily revealing his characters, and the way his Lomax eventually reclaims his identity before enjoying some redemption is gently stirring.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the end, for a movie about such a grim and grotesque chapter in history "The Railway Man" commits the most improbable sin of all. It's dull.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An impressively crafted, skillfully acted, highly absorbing journey into a dark corner of world history.

April 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Firth's] modesty prevents "The Railway Man" from turning mawkishly sentimental once Lomax embraces the concept of forgiveness, and you can believe it's possible.

April 10, 2014 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Firth's compelling performance highlights this true story of how one British POW slave laborer of the Japanese survived his post traumatic stress in a much more realistic telling of the death railway than David Lean's Oscar winner.

April 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Tolucan Times
Tolucan Times

'The Railway Man' deals with some of the uglier aspects of war, namely how torture can be justified by the upper echelons of government through twisted language...

April 13, 2014 Full Review Source: UR Chicago Magazine

Along the way, The Railway Man accumulates some power and insight, but it's also hard to shake the feeling that a complicated first-person account has been given the Weinstein treatment.

April 10, 2014 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

The Railway Man is such a safe, respectful portrait of true-life catharsis that it feels afraid to reopen the same old wounds it exalts Lomax for confronting.

April 9, 2014 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

Shows off real filmmaking and storytelling skill on the part of Teplitzky and a different view of WWII than we've seen before.

April 8, 2014 Full Review Source:

A remarkable illustration of the human capacity to find peace through forgiveness.

April 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Baret News
Baret News

The result is an old-fashioned war film with echoes of The Bridge on the River Kwai, melded with a stirring story of truth, reconciliation and healing. Only a hardhearted cynic would be unmoved.

April 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for The Railway Man

Going into The Railway Man, I expected a mediocre Oscar-bait biopic however, I was more than delighted to be wrong. While it has many of the run of the mill true story drama conventions, it is superior to most of them and feels very subversive to such a dry and boring sub-genre.
The Railway Man follows two timelines, one of an English group of POWs trying to survive in Japan during World War 2, and another set decades later following the psychological fallout from the trauma the soldiers endured.
To me, this story is much stronger than typical true stories and it worked really well. It fits in themes of forgiveness and overcoming tragedy really well. It delivers a very strong performance from its lead Colin Firth (which is great to see after the dreadful Gambit) and equally great performances from Hiroyuki Sanada and Jeremy Irvine. The film's greatest strength probably lies is the brilliant performances on offer, however Nicole Kidman slightly missed the mark. After War Horse left a bad taste in my mouth, I have steered clear of cheesy Oscar-bait films and of Jeremy Irvine, however this movie gives me hope that both of those things are not always bad.
The run time of these kinds of films tend to be too long and they drag on a lot, however; The Railway Man fits quite well with its 115 minute run time. I didn't have much of a problem with its length, nor its pacing; bar having a couple of time checks throughout. It is also shot very well with sets that really help to capture the intended environment and time setting, particularly the great dreary 80's English seaside environment.
In regards to the intended target audience, this film predominantly aims for elderly people as they will understand the jargon and context of the film better than any other demographic. As a teenager in a screening surrounded by elderly people, I could tell the film was hitting its mark well as they understand and laughed at things I didn't; but thankfully this ignorance didn't hinder my viewing experience.
Overall, The Railway Man more than succeeds on what it is trying to accomplish and is definitely compelling viewing. It is great for mature audiences and feels like a standout in a boring and tired sub-genre. However, if you truly dislike biopic/true story films then this will probably not be for you and the same goes for people strongly uninterested in the second World War.
December 29, 2013
Luke Compton

Super Reviewer

Exceptional. Solid performances Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
December 24, 2013
hawk ledge

Super Reviewer

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