Wednesday, 15 January 2014


This is the third film I've seen on the trot in which human suffering is to the fore. At least this one, coming in at under two hours, doesn't have the near-epic length of either 'Mandela' or '12 Years', so that's a plus. Unfortunately there aren't that many more 'pluses'.

Based on a true story, (aren't they nearly all?), Colin Firth plays an English survivor of a Japanese-run POW workers unit forced to build a railway in Burma during WWII ('Bridge on the River Kwai' territory.) We first see Firth a couple of decades later approaching late-middle age, as a steam railway buff, chance-meeting Nicole Kidman in a railway carriage in England, Kidman having yet again to adopt an English accent, which she always does very well. In no time at all they're married, he having kept in the dark from her his periodic flashbacks to wartime experiences, reflecting his barbaric treatment by a particular one of his Japanese tormentors, who is also the group's only translator. The action switches back and forth between his Burma experience (the young Firth character played by Jeremy Irvine quite convincingly) and later complications with his wife who is desirous to know the truth of what happened though he is reluctant to reveal it. We do actually see the treatment to which he is subjected. (One more difficult watch!) He has also kept contact with other survivors, one of whom is unassumingly played by Stellan Skarsgard (who was one of Firth's co-lead players in 'Mamma Mia'!). Skarsgard's low-key and measured performance seems to me a bit at odds with how the film develops concerning his character, though it might have been intended to be a case of 'holding it in' as Firth's character was also trying to do. When Firth is informed that his Japanese torturer is also still alive he becomes intent on seeking revenge.

I haven't seen any of director Jonathon Teplitzky's other films, none of which is particularly well known. I didn't think this was actually bad, just rather not special enough for the story it tells. And if it hadn't been based on fact I simply would not have believed the heavy sentiment of the very final scene, though I concede that it might well have taken place.

One to wile away a little time, then, but without it lingering in the mind anything like yesterday's did. I give it a...............6.


  1. oh Ra,. I am afraid this film would be too emotional for me.

    When we were at the Hellfire pass in Thailand, I walked all the way down there. We were in a camp not far from there where the Japanese were based. I cried nearly all the way down, the Thai guide was also quite upset that the Australian couple who were with us was visiting where their uncle had died. He kept saying sorry.

    God it makes me choke up it is so silly of me. The day before I had walked in the cemetery where they had exhumed the bodies to. *le sigh even now I have tears thinking about it* hardly any of them were over 25.

    Humans are evil to each other aren't they. going to make a cup of tea and pull myself together.

    1. I'd strongly recommend you to NOT see this, Sol. It would be bound to distress you, which I can well understand.
      What you say about the Thai guide and the Australian couple is touching - and there is some of this emotion in the very final moments of the film, which I found a bit contrived. Though if I was one of those directly affected by these events my reaction would have been vastly different.
      I'd imagine that this film might have been made in the very locations you visited which, if so, would be almost unbearable to see again.
      It's not 'silly' of you one bit. I too choke up at seeing sites I have visited where unspeakable cruelties administered by humans on others took place. I cannot now watch newsreel films of concentration camps in Germany and would find it impossible to visit any of those places preserved as a memorial - though when younger I would almost certainly have done so.
      So, maybe when this one comes on the telly and you have plenty of tissues beside you (and maybe a bottle of wine), you might give it a go.

  2. off to see catching fire later today. I hope I like it

  3. Ray!!!! *squeal*, I loved Hunger Games Catching Fire. I would give it 7. not as good as the first, but still good. I loved the books. so I couldn't hate it if I tried.

    1. I think part of our differing views, Sol, is down to that fabled 'generation gap'. The concept of the films interests me as little as playing the computer games which they resemble. I've no doubt that if I too had read the books I might have mustered more interest. But as it is I'm looking forward to the series being over with - and the films haven't interested me enough to even search out the books. So looks like in this respect I'm just an old fuddy-duddy.