The Railway Children Return (2022)
As one member of our discussion group put it, this film wasn’t Citizen Kane. We all had deep sentimental attachment to The Railway Children (1970) but the 2022 sequel had lots of flaws and just didn’t reach its destination.
It was a series of vignettes, we thought, mirroring the previous film but not really doing it so well. There were some concerns for us that put the film into ‘Made for TV’ territory. For example, the language that didn’t seem to fit World War Two – would a headteacher keep using the expression “OK” in her assemblies? Would someone at that time question an elderly man about how many women held senior positions in his company?
As much as we appreciated the children’s performances and enjoyed veteran actors Jenny Agutter and Tom Courtenay, we did feel Sheridan Smith as the school’s head was miscast. She needed to be far stricter.
The role of a black general was perhaps not accurate for the time, while opportunities were missed to show how the whole community welcomed the black soldiers, rather than just the children.
Some production decisions just seemed odd – the foggy flashbacks didn’t appeal. An opportunity was missed to show the three family reunions at the end. Instead, we were shown photographs, so it all ended rather flat. The music was over-powering.
This was a kind-hearted film, much like its predecessor, but it didn’t have a coherent message. Oh well, as they say, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.