Nostalgia runs out of steam on the big screen

The Railway Children Return (PG, 98 minutes)

Is there a place in today’s cinema for charming, saccharine evocations of a bygone age in Britain that never really existed in the first place?

Even fifty one years ago when The Railway Children was released, the goody goody steam driven British Film Institute-ness of stage school youngsters in sleeveless jumpers saving the day in the early 20th century English countryside was looking at odds with the tastes of the times which was eschewing the nostalgia of fake British middle class accents for football hooliganism, glam rock and A Clockwork Orange.

Today, cinema audiences are even less likely to spend the average weekly wage in 1970 on a ticket to see a sequel to a film that was made before most of them were born.

As the story picks up it’s wartime (the second one) and evacuees are sent to the village of Oakworth from a blitz hit Manchester.

One of the children from the first film, Bobbie (played again five decades on by Jenny Agutter) is now a grandmother. Her daughter Annie (played by Sheridan Smith) is the headmistress of the local school, who is persuaded to take in three siblings when no one else will.

The children are soon embroiled in an adventure along the railway tracks involving a deserting US serviceman.

There’s really nothing wrong with the performances here or the idea of kids finding friendship under difficult circumstances, but this well tried and tested morality tale of youngsters showing the adults a thing or two would have been more suited to a Sunday early evening slot on ITV rather than a medium now dominated by blockbuster production values.

RATING: 5/10

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]