This R-rated movie, based on Eric Lomax's autobiography, depicts the treatment of British soldiers captured by the Japanese after the surrender of Singapore in 1942 (despite the excellence of this cast, it was better done in "The Bridge on the River Kwai"). We reluctantly witness the brutality and inhumane treatment of those prisoners and the long-term effects of that experience. Flashbacks will span about 20 years.
When a former World War II POW who worked on the notorious Burma to Siam "Death Railway
" during his imprisonment, discovered that his Japanese jailer was still alive, he reluctantly agreed to meet him.
- * Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") is Eric Lomax, a man troubled by what we now call PTSD, because of the horrific conditions and the torture to which he was subjected but about which he refused to talk.
- * Jeremy Irvine ("War Horse") is Eric of 1942, smart, resourceful and resilient. He can't convince his tormentors that a radio receiver doesn't transmit.
- * Stellan Skarsgård ("Romeo and Juliet") is Finlay, another veteran who understands his comrade's reluctance to talk about their experience.
- * Sam Reid ("Anonymous") is the wartime Finlay, also beaten and tortured. He too, will suffer from PTSD.
- * Tanroh Ishida ("47 Ronin") is Nagase, the young soldier who chose not to commit suicide when the Japanese lost the war, despite his vows to preserve his honor.
- * Hiroyuki Sanada ("The Twilight Samurai") is the older version. He became a guide for tourists who wanted to learn about that notorious railway.
- * Nicole Kidman ("The Paperboy") is Patti, the woman who was convinced that Eric must confront his tormentor in order to purge his lingering demons.
In my opinion, director Jonathan Teplitzky made the beatings too over the top. If those had been actual beatings, there would have been too many broken bones for the prisoners to survive, physically sound, into maturity.
The dialogue is murmured or whispered much of the time and the Japanese is not translated, so look for a theater with closed captions or wait for the DVD. You will very much appreciate the postscripts and photos (of Eric, Patti
) which follow the feature.