ARDENT train enthusiast Eric (Colin Firth) is safely ensconced in a first-class carriage, casting nervous glances at the woman sitting opposite.

Eventually he strikes up a conversation with Patricia Wallace (Nicole Kidman) and learns she is visiting the north of England based on recommendations from a friend.

He engineers another meeting with Patti further up the line and they fall in love and marry. It quickly becomes clear to Patti that there is something in Eric's past which is troubling him, but her efforts to help are swatted aside. So she seeks out his best friend Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), hoping he can reveal the scars of the past and ease her spouse's suffering.

“A lot of men went through something you can't even begin to imagine,” Finlay tells her.

Ultimately, he recounts to Patti, and us, the horrors faced by young Eric (Jeremy Irvine) and fellow soldiers at the Sakamoto Butai camp.

Based on the bestselling autobiography of Eric Lomax, The Railway Man is a respectful and polished drama, which uses a patchwork of flashbacks to recount the writer's treatment at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army after the fall of Singapore during the Second World War.