August 14, 2022
The Railway Children Return Review Header

“The Railway Children Return is a brilliant sequel to its 1970 predecessor. This new story will leave a lasting impression on audiences of all ages. A heart-warming example of British heritage cinema.”

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the upcoming film The Railway Children Return, directed by Morgan Matthews. The film is a sequel to the beloved 1970 film The Railway Children (Directed by Lionel Jeffries). I am never quite sure what to expect from sequels that release 10 or even 15 years after the original. But this sequel comes after 52 years. Considering the differences in cinema and society this is a bold move. A bold move that has resulted in a heart-warming, nostalgic film that will captivate and lift the spirits of a twenty-first-century audience. The Railway Children Return is a beautiful piece of British cinema, that stays faithful to its 1970 predecessor.

The Railway Children Return
The Railway Children Return

WAR IN BRITAIN

Whilst the narrative takes place during World War Two, the main focus is not on the war but rather on the impact on children who were evacuated from industrial cities to the quiet countryside. Although the experience of siblings Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton), and Ted (Zac Cudby) in the country are far from quiet. Upon arrival, the siblings along with other children are inspected and chosen by residents. Bobbie (Jenny Agutter), who herself came to the village as a child in the original film, along with her daughter Annie (Sheridan Smith) takes in the siblings.

From there the adventure begins and the siblings along with Annie’s son Thomas (Austin Haynes) find themselves wound up in their own war mission. Whilst playing at a secret hideout on the railway tracks, they discover Abe (KJ Aikens) a young injured American soldier who requires their help. The narrative is compact with a few twists thrown in. Issues such as war, race, class, and even age are navigated throughout. If you are looking for an explosive narrative, with non-stop action then this is not the film for you. But if you are looking for the inner warmth and triumph of a period drama then The Railway Children Return is perfect. Trust me, there are so many hugs throughout this film, you’ll find yourself desperate for a hug by the time you leave the cinema.

The Railway Children Return
The Railway Children Return

THE WAR EFFORT

Even though this is a war film, we are not on the frontlines which allow for the creation of a fun adventure vibe throughout. It offers us a look into the smaller war efforts. Such as the children being taken to safety which allowed their mother to work as a nurse. And the efforts of train station master Richard (John Bradley) as he intercepts radio messages. Wider we have the people of the village who take in children, having to feed and care for them, and the pressure on the school where Annie is headteacher; to educate the increased number of children.

With Lily, Pattie, Ted, and Thomas we see how eager the young generation was to play their part and help the war effort. Abe the perfect example of a child wanting to fight for his family – no matter what. An empowering impact will be had on child viewers, as they see the power they have to change things just as the children do in the film.

The Railway Children Return
The Railway Children Return

HERITAGE

British heritage films always tend to purport a sense of sanitized Britishness and The Railway Children Return is no exception. Location plays a key role throughout. Especially as the children are transported from a smoggy bombed Manchester to the postcard-perfect countryside of Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. The film is diligent in its recreation of the 1940s. With costumes, sets, and props all help to create a realistic depiction of history; transporting audiences to a different era. This faithful recreation of the 1940s, combined with brilliant performances from the cast creates a believable film, that utilizes history to create such a compelling story.

The Railway Children Return

VERDICT

Overall, The Railway Children Return is a brilliant sequel to its 1970 predecessor. This new story will leave a lasting impression and smile upon audiences of all ages. A heart-warming instant classic, a brilliant example of British heritage cinema.

The Railway Children Return is distributed by StudioCanal and will release in cinemas everywhere from Friday.

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