I never heard of it till I watched "The History Boys". I think I liked the boys' version better.
Another wonderful example of British cinema. This movie was wonderful. About ordinary people that could be your neighbor or colleague. Nicely directed and the acting was perfect.
Released as part of Janus Film's "Essential Art House" series, this is a bare bones DVD of one of the most acclaimed British films ever made. Directed by David Lean and written by Noel Coward, it stars Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, both married to other people, as two people who meet unexpectedly and have a short, but passionate, if sexless, affair. It's tasteful, understated, and poignant, with fine performances by the leads, but it is very British in its restraint and can be a little stuffy (Pauline Kael: "There's not a breath of fresh air in it."), especially for an American viewer. Lean would direct a few other Coward scripts before going on to his sweeping, epic films like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Dr. Zhivago." Also check out "The End of the Affair."
While dated, this is still a great Noel Coward story adapted for the screen.
When an emotionally frustrated housewife bumps into an equally desperate married doctor at a railway station a spark is lit that threatens to overwhelm them both. Soon Laura and Alec are frolicking in a rowboat, holding hands over dinner and staring into each other’s eyes at the cinema; but when the opportunity to go all the way finally presents itself the two are forced to examine the path their lives are taking. Told mainly in flashback as Laura composes a fictitious confession to her conservative fossil of a husband David Lean’s three-hanky weeper, based on Noel Coward’s play, is chockfull of the usual cinematic metaphors; trains pass each other in the night, a stone bridge is somehow never crossed, and a furtive pat on the shoulder conveys all the heartache in the world. Sadly, although the film is replete with emotional credibility (it’s sympathetic portrayal of spouses on the brink earned the wrath of Irish censors) it suffers from some terribly florid dialogue and overblown performances which render it more soap than substance. The final, obligatory scene of syrupy reconciliation with Rachmaninov playing in the background reduced us to a round of groans and winces.
The title on the dvd box is "Essential Art House Movie Brief Encounter". I looked up the definition of "essential" and one of the definitions is "extremely important". That is how I feel about Director David Lean's masterpiece "Brief Encounter". It was such a great film and so popular that the basic script would be copied many times over with a different title and cast. Visually the film is stunning with black and white scenes that seem like paintings on a screen. The scenes in the railroad station in London are magnificent. This is a story that captures the heart and the mind. We all wonder what we would do in a similar situation. My hope is that you too will enjoy this remarkable movie!
P.S. There are a total of 5 patrons who wrote reviews of "Brief Encounter" and gave it 5 Stars. That is exceptional feedback for any movie and certainly well deserved for Robert Lean's Masterpiece.
"Essential Art House" Movie on the box to the DVD says it all. "Brief Encounter" was so surprisingly good. The location for much of it is a train station. London's Train Station has been the backdrop to many classic movies. I hope you don't read other reviews, read the box or anything else. "Brief Encounter" is a one of a kind movie. Take a chance. You will be well rewarded!
At SFSU my teacher Jim Kitses allowed the class to "have at" this film, and we were to write an analysis of it as compared to modern film. Instead I, as a 19-YO, wrote a defense of it, which he never forgot. He made a point, in subsequent lectures, that what some film students find anachronistic and laughable might appeal to others not so ready to make sport of the things they do not get. When the whole class was laughing I was almost tearful, thus my angry paper. I wonder if my Professor is still alive. It was a while ago.
I have only one word to describe this movie: BORING! I tried, really really tried to watch, but couldn't stand it. (PS: I loved Lawrence of Arabia--watched several times--and The Bridge on the River Kwai! And although I love Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto # 2 I didn't think it helped a bit, but distracted the viewer from a monotone movie.)
Insanely-British soap-opera. Screenplay by Noel Coward: his take on genteel, chaste, heterosexual, almost-adultery in England in the mid-twentieth century. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson both perfect. Directed by David Lean, who later gave us "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia." Not to be missed. Also, do try to find a recording of Mike Nichols and Elaine May's send-up, titled "The Dentist" with the same Rachmaninoff music track. Rule Britannia.
Not I suppose that anybody's ever perfectly happy, really...just to be ordinarily contented. To be at peace.
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