By Andy Lea/Published
4th January 2014
AS this film hasn't been released in America, Colin Firth can't win this years’ Best Actor Oscar for his latest turn as a tongue-tied Brit.
Which is a shame. Because the King’s Speech star puts in the performance of his career in this accomplished drama based on the memoirs of Eric Lomax.
Lomax, who died last year, was a railway enthusiast who was subjected to unspeakable horrors at a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Burma. The film starts some decades later when he falls for Nicole Kidman’s vivacious divorcee Patti on the romantic setting of the north-west mainline. At first, Firth is in full Mr Darcy mode delivering killer chat-up lines like: “If you think Warrington's exciting, wait till we get to Preston."
But soon after their hurried wedding, Patti realizes that Eric is still fighting his own Second World War. Lomax can’t bring himself to talk about his experiences but sudden rages, horrible nightmares and long bouts of depression, suggest he’s suffering from what we would now call post-traumatic stress syndrome.
As Patti learns his story from Lomax’s curiously accented wartime pal Finlay (a miscast Stellan Skarsgård), the film takes us back to the hells of Burma. Here we see the full horrors heaped on the young soldier (played by a great Jeremy Irvine) by a young Japanese officer.