Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skaarsgard star in this adaptation of a bestseller, itself a true story of the horrors of war, and the ramifications of torture within a japanese POW camp echoing through life to the present.
Colin Firth is, by all interpretations, a geeky trainspotter. The opening of the film, which wonderfully manages a reference to Oban and the West Coast of Scotland, its extraordinary beauty and how one might fall in love with it. (something i know all too much about), sees him on a train chatting to recently seperated Kidman, and using the art of charm and personality known only as Colin Firthness, reigns her in. The two fall in love, everything is wonderful.
Except, its not. You see, Firth is still psychologically damaged (i use the word damaged but its such an understatement) as a result of something that happened to him during the second world war. At this point, we don’t know what. So Kidman, worried for her husband, contacts his old unit, and tries to find the truth. And to make matters worse, it turns out the japanese soldier responsible for whatever horrors occurred, is still alive. How will Firth react to that?
Its a harrowing tale, and certainly not a comedy. But what it also is, is phenomenal. Its a brutal slice of post-war reality and a story of the fragile human mind. The real clincher for me was that the only reason Firth was tortured is because the japs thought he was a spy – because he knew about the trainlines. And the only reason he knew about the trainlines is because he was a trainspotter. And because he didn’t have an app for it on his phone he drew a map, which fell into the wrong hands and raised the wrong suspicions.
A really well made film it certainly is. Not one i’d perhaps watch again anytime soon, but i could say the same for Schindlers List, or Empire of the Sun. (the latter being my favourite war film).
Hats off, however, to the only person in the film better than the great Colin Firth, and that was his younger self, played to perfection by Jeremy Irvine, most recently seen in War Horse.
My only gripe is trivial; i wasn’t as emotionally devastated as i was expecting to be. Weird complaint, considering perhaps being emotionally devastated is a bad thing, but nonetheless, i was expecting traumatisation, and instead i just got a dashed good film. Read into that what you will.