The Railway Children Return
A sequel to the 1970 film The Railway Children (itself an adaptation of the 1906 novel of the same name), The Railway Children Return follows Lily (Beau Gadson), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby), three siblings from Manchester, who are sent to a village in Yorkshire during the Second World War. They’re taken in by Bobbie (Jenny Agutter, who reprises her role as one of the original Railway Children), her daughter Annie (Sheridan Smith) and Annie’s son, Thomas (Austin Hayes), who becomes fast friends with the trio as they settle into their new life in the countryside. However, they can’t escape the horrors of war, even in this idyllic landscape, and, when the children discover injured American soldier Abe (KJ Aikens) hiding in the local rail yard, relationships old and new are put to the test.
Owing to its young target audience and mission statement of educating that audience about the evacuee experience, The Railway Children Return is a straightforward movie, but it manages to work with that simplicity to tell a heartwarming and surprisingly compelling story. This story is primarily told through a series of small slice-of-life vignettes, which help to break it up for younger audience members and paint a picture of life in World War II that’s at once comprehensive and comprehensible.
The film’s writing hits a delicate balance of providing solid character work that satisfies young minds without overwhelming them, sprinkling in some social commentary about problems like racism and sexism in ways that make them simple to understand but provoke wider questions about the world.
There’s something here for everyone: children on the younger end of the film’s target demographic will enjoy the fun of the countryside, with a solid mix of comedy and action, while older children will be able to sink their teeth into the movie’s more educational parts, as well as the solid and engaging character arcs. The Railway Children Return is very aware of the anxieties that kids of all ages face, and engages with its audience without either patronising or alienating them.
Overall, this a lot of fun for all the family, with a charming story that teaches children important lessons about the world we live in while also delivering a solidly entertaining cinematic experience.
The Railway Children Return is released nationwide on 15th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Railway Children Return here: