British soldier Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) captured in the fall of Singapore in 1942, is sent to work on the Burma Railway in Thailand, where he is tortured.
He remains mentally scarred years after coming home, but is in a state of denial. His new wife Patricia (Nicole Kidman) is perplexed by his self-destructive rages, but with the help of his former comrade Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), she learns of his trauma.
Based on Lomax's 1995 book of the same title, the scenes of harsh treatment in the prisoner-of-war camp are depicted plainly, without over-emphasis or veiling. And when Lomax (in his youth played by Jeremy Irvine) is singled out for hard interrogation for using a smuggled radio, the horror theme shifts into higher gear, explaining the NC16 rating.
The exact nature of the Lomax's torture is unveiled slowly to maximise suspense and to the film's credit, when the reveal happens, it does not leave much to the imagination.
This is clearly a film with a message that some will find naive or even condescending.
It couches that message with a fair degree of sensitivity and, thankfully, stops short of prescribing Lomax's extraordinary act as a panacea.
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