Railway Children Movie Review (2022)

The setting has been moved from Victorian times to 1944, near the end of World War II. The story is very different and a new character has been added, a black American GI named Abe. His arc is so clumsily constructed and loose, both underwritten and overwritten at the same time, that even the very appealing Kenneth Aikens can’t make it work.

The story starts at a Manchester train station. The Nazis bomb English cities and parents send their children to the Yorkshire countryside to protect them. The children are confused and scared, and parents try to comfort them. A mother sobs and grabs her child back from the train because she just can’t bear to see them separated.

Lily (Beau Gadsdon), a brave and resilient teenager, promises her mother that she will take care of her dress-hating sister Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and their teddy bear for the young brother Ted (Zac Cudby). When they arrive in Yorkshire, the local families are told to choose the children they are willing to take home. No one wants the three siblings who won’t be separated. Bobbie Waterbury (Agutter) persuades her daughter Ann (Sheridan Smith), the headmaster, to take them. Her kindness makes the new arrivals feel at home, and they quickly bond with Ann’s son, Thomas (Austin Haynes). The children miss their mother. But they enjoy exploring the country with its fresh air and unobstructed starry nights. And they enjoy exploring the rail yard, where Thomas has set up a secret headquarters for espionage, which he insists is helping the war effort.

It is there that they discover Abe, who tells them that he is an American GI on a secret mission. In the grand tradition of “Great Expectations,” “Whistle Down the Wind,” “Parts you lose,” and others, he needs their help. He has been injured. Lily agrees to bring him some bandages, and he earns her trust by rescuing her when a bomb lands near them.

The setting, with many of the same locations from the first film, is used effectively; the peaceful, rural beauty of the countryside contrasts with the news of war and emphasizes the children’s adaptability and determination. Kit Fraser‘s cinematography has touches of nostalgic sepia in its color palette to evoke the past. The young actors give sensitive, moving performances, especially Gadsdon. Casting directors: Put her in a movie with Thomasin McKenzie playful sisters who solve crimes or commit (not too serious) crimes. An absolute hit.

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