Jun 3, 2012
Brief encounter 
Directed by David Lean, Brief Encounter tells the story of a man and woman who fall in love with each other after they meet in a train station. Celia Johnson plays the delicate, quiet Laura Jensen, mother of two and happily married to Fred, and Trevor Howard is Alec Harvey, a courteous young doctor whose wife and kids at home don't stop him from pursuing Laura.
The first scene captures your attention, as you can easily see the hidden messages and feelings that are transmitted between the two lovers in the refreshment room at the Milford Junction, only using the eyes and stares. They are not touching or talking, but you can sense something is going on. Well, the viewer can, because the rude acquaintance of Laura certainly doesn't, as she interrupts them and starts talking and talking, without caring about the people around her. This is where we get a glimpse of the sad woman's thoughts, as he hear her inner voice telling us "I wish she would stop talking". This way of narrating the story continues at home, as she decides to tell Fred, her husband, about the love story between her and Alec, but only manages to do it mentally. The storyline is pretty simple and straight forward and I liked the fact that their romance started rather normal, from acquaintances to friends, then lovers, as miss Jensen starts explaining to her husband how they met and why she is feeling so terrible now.
I love the 1940s, 1950s movies for many different reason. First of all, I am always impressed with the lighting in black and white films- I notice it much more here than in color and it always looks amazing. Second of all, and most importantly, I like this decades in cinematography because, back then, the focus wasn't on visual effects, or action, or sets, even costumes- no, the main attraction in a black&white film or any other kind, was the actor, the character and the story it wanted to showcase. In that time, people knew how to express themselves just through their eyes- I could feel and understand what Laura was experiencing just by looking at her face or noticing little gestures that gave her away. It was true acting and it was much more interesting and effective than what we get today (don't get me wrong, there are plenty of wonderful actors today, too, but with different styles). Celia Johnson not only was a beautiful woman, but a very sophisticated and elegant one, as well; her voice was smooth and I loved her accent, although one thing I don't particularly care for in these types of movies is the need to over dramatize everything, by easily crying or getting emotional at every little obstacle. I can't say too much of Trevor Howard, as I feel he wasn't properly showcased, but he did his job wonderfully.
Overall, Brief Encounter was a classic bittersweet noir film, with lovely characters and a sad story that moved me, in some way or another. You should put it on your To See list, although it isn't highly recommended- maybe it's perfect for when you're tired and looking for a short, easy film to take your mind off things.
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I'm glad I saw this film for my Cannes marathon last month. It was quite moving and I wanted those characters to get together. I think I'll try and get that David Lean directs Noel Coward box set from Criterion sometime this year.ReplyDelete
I don't have any Criterion DVDs, maybe I should buy some, I've been hearing a lot about them!Delete
Good review. I liked this film, although it didn't affect me as much emotionally as I thought it might, based on what I had heard about the film.ReplyDelete
I know what you mean, I felt the same way, I was expecting to be more impressed by it, but I wasn't!Delete
I LOVE this movie. It is one of the greatest love stories I have ever seen. Perfectly filmed, this is the movie that showed how great David Lean was going to be. I have never had a love story where I wanted a marriage to break-up more than this one. (Although David Lean comes close again in Summertime and Doctor Zhivago.) By the way, The Criterion Collection movies are among the greatest non-mainstream movies around. They are always worth watching.ReplyDelete
Thanks for dropping by, I am glad we share the love for the movie! I really should see Doctor Zhivago, it's on my list!Delete