Brief Encounter
(1945)

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MY FEE IS A GUINEA

 


Director:                      David Lean
Producers:                  Noel Coward
                                     Anthony Havelock-Allan
                                     Ronald Neame
Script:                          Noel Coward
                                     Anthony Havelock-Allan
                                     David Lean
                                     Ronald Neame
Cinematography:       Robert Krasker

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The meeting of a stranger at a railway station, a woman becomes entangled and falls in love whilst being tempted to cheat on her husband. This could be a storyline for a film written in modern times, although Brief Encounter is set in 1945, not sporting flashy lighting, effects or glamorous costly film locations, just a select few rather unromantic settings. But with all this combined it made for a nice change from the sexualised love affairs portrayed and consumed in present times.

Celia Johnston plays Laura, a married middle class woman who leads a repressed yet comfortable life. A chance meeting as she is going about her weekly shopping trip leads her to fall in love with Dc. Alec Harvey, played by Trevor Howard; this sparks a secret love affair which runs over a 7 week period. This story is transformed by David Lean and writer Noel Coward into something emotionally fulfilling and, ultimately, heart-breaking. Celia Johnson gives a masterful performance as a decent, veddy British and proper lady who is swept away by a man she doesn't know. But since this was 1945, there can't be much more than stolen kisses between the two amidst highly dramatic surroundings (tunnels, bridges, train platforms), yet Lean and Coward allow you to feel the intricacy of this relationship, the guilt but also the guilty pleasure. The movie is indeed as decent as the wife, but that doesn't make the "illicit" clinches any the less important, for this woman blossoms and matures in the course of the film, and the director is careful to let us sympathize

Most love stories, especially now, portray the characters' falling in love as an incident that has propelled the story. Brief Encounter, one of the few love stories to march to a different tune, is only about the spark and deepening and situational turmoil of love, laying bare the definition of it, its lack of any commonsense safety net, its random context, its power to make two people feel idealistic about themselves and ultimately about the two extreme extents of emotion in which it can leave you. And for this, a film must draw out the most personal familiarity with it all of each actor, the writer and the director.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                           

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Brief Encounter