A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main character is long driven by revenge, but once he finally comes face to face with the man who tortured him long ago in a WWII POW camp, the former prisoner must choose whether he wants to act from rage or from forgiveness.
Positive Role Models
As a young man, Eric chooses to sacrifice himself to save his friends -- a noble act that leads to unspeakable torture. As an adult, he keeps this history bottled up, making it difficult for him to open up to his wife. Other men are equally damaged by their wartime experiences.
Violence & Scariness
Many sequences show soldiers being abused in a Japanese POW camp, including vicious beatings, cruel interrogations, and an extended water-torture scene. Prisoners who aren't tortured are starved and worked to the edge of death, and plenty of shots feature corpses or skeletons. One shot shows someone who has committed suicide.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple is shown embracing in bed in a tender moment. Some kissing.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some scenes show adults drinking in a pub.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Railway Man centers on an ex-soldier (Colin Firth) who was emotionally scarred by his years in a Japanese POW camp during WWII, to the point where he sometimes still imagines his captors are with him, decades later, torturing him anew. Nicole Kidman co-stars as his wife, who doesn't know how to handle these demons from the past when they rear their ugly heads -- in scenes that are likely too harrowing and intense for younger viewers. One scene also shows a character after having committed suicide. There's also some flirting, kissing, and social drinking, but the main issue of concern are the many scenes of POW torture. Themes of revenge and sacrifice are explored. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
THE RAILWAY MAN is a lesser movie than it should be, packaged as it is with gorgeous cinematography, atmospheric music, and a star-studded cast. In another time and place, it could have been Oscar bait. But this version is pulled in two different directions. It starts as what appears to be a romance, an exploration of the relationship between two equals, one more self-actualized than the other. But then it quickly becomes apparent that it's also a war movie. And in many ways, as the latter, it's sensitive, empathetic, and moving. If only it had just made up its mind.
You get the feeling that Kidman being cast as Eric's wife demanded a beefing up of their relationship storyline. Which would be fine, if the movie had actually given her more to do than just appear concerned and ready to come to the rescue of a damaged man. But that's not the case. And in its war movie incarnation, the film also falls short, pushing the audience to feel deeply when it doesn't deserve the commitment. It relies too heavily on music, pseudo-mysterious close-ups, and oblique references to secrets untold. Perhaps if the filmmakers had made a firm decision either way, the movie would have been better. But they didn't.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.