Brief Encounter (1945)

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I love you. I love your wide eyes, the way you smile, your shyness, and the way you laugh at my jokes.

David Lean directs this classic film about housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) who feels ‘stuck in a rut’ with her boring suburban life, husband Fred (Cyril Raymond) and motherhood. By chance, on a shopping trip, she meets handsome doctor Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) and the pair’s casual encounter in the station’s refreshment room turns into something deeper. However, reality sets in and the two have to part ways, realising that the future that they want together cannot happen.

There is so much I could analyse about this fantastic film. In the context of when it was made, at the end of the Second World War, Lean was representing the suburban life that was dominated by the railways but also the notion that women had more sexual and economic freedom. As well as Lean’s  superb camera work, I found Laura’s  confessional voice over to her husband was very dramatic and also very sad. I also found it effective that there were parallels between reality and fantasy, for instance Laura’s dull life is very dark but when she meets and is with  Alec everything is bright and wonderful and then when he leaves it is dark again.

I also found my heart racing a bit when Laura and Alec are close to consummating their relationship but are nearly found out by Alec’ s friend, leaving the viewer with the question of ‘would it all have been different if the friend hadn’t interrupted them?’

The film was based on Noel Coward’s 1936 play and co starred Joyce Carey as Myrtle, the tea woman in the train waiting room, Stanley Holloway as Albert Godby (he later played Eliza Doolittle’s father in My Fair Lady) and Everley Gregg as Dolly, Laura’s friend who won’t keep her mouth shut.

An excellent classic and is parodied in films such as The History Boys and by comediens such as Victoria Wood.

‘Thank you for coming back to me’

My rating: 5/5

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