Monday, March 8, 2010

#144 Brief Encounter (1945)


Director: David Lean

Cast: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond, Everley Gregg

Perhaps the most quintessential love story ever portrayed on screen-- this is the story of a young, suburban married woman named Laura who, by happenstance, meets the handsome and married doctor, Alec, on a train platform in England. Over the course of a few weeks, the two continue to cross paths until, giving into fate, they begin developing a secret, ritualistic romance every Thursday at the train station. The film specializes in showing the quiet, subtle details of their romance, as they are forced to fall for each other discreetly in the public eye, both wracked from the guilt they feel for their spouses at home.

The story is told in pained flashback by Laura, as she tells her husband the truth in her head. Her monologue is truthful, sincere, and not at all contrived like you might expect for such a story.

Even though the plot itself was not a surprise, the ending proved to be not so predictable. Also, unlike many movies of this era, it didn't seem to drag at all-- no real low points or overly long stretches of dialogue. Compositionally, shot for shot, it was a beautiful film, but the reason it remains so captivating and deserving of four stars is the way the director chose to capture the developing romance. Not in long love confessions, but rather in glances. In thoughts. In body language. In gesture.
A movie full of subtly, pain, longing, and beautiful people.

A great film for the classic film enthusiast like myself.

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