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Brenda de Banzie
At a café on a railway station, housewife Laura Jesson meets doctor Alec Harvey. Although they are both already married, they gradually fall in love with each other. They continue to meet every Thursday in the small café, although they know that their love is impossible. Written by
Certain songs, or melodies, associated with films one has seen, stay in our sub conscience forever. This is the case with the Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto for this viewer. Any time we hear it, or parts of the main themes are played, it immediately evokes this romantic film of 1945. It's a tribute to its director, David Lean, that after more than sixty years, it still is one of the most cherished movie experiences for a lot of people that saw it, or that are just getting acquainted with it.
"Brief Encounter" owes it all to one of the best talent in the English speaking world of the last century: Noel Coward. As part of his "Tonight at Eight" theater work, this one act play, "Still Life" was turned by its author and David Lean into what we know as "Brief Encounter", a bittersweet account of two lovers, doomed from the start.
The film works because the exquisite chemistry between its two stars, Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. Both these actors make Laura Jesson and Alec Harvey come alive and stay with us every time we view this timeless film. The story is not far fetched and is made real by the two stars that elevate it to one of the best films of all times. The movie is done with an impeccable sense of decorum and style, yet it has such a sexy subtext. That was a time when a film didn't have to "bare it all" in order to catch the viewer's imagination. In fact, Laura and Alec let us know, without being specific, about the passion that both feel for one another.
Celia Johnson was not a great beauty. Neither was Trevor Howard the epitome of handsomeness, yet, their scenes together project such a heat, as the one that their characters are feeling at any given moment. The fact the two illicit lovers are played by people one could relate to, is what makes the film resonate the way it does every time we watch it. Of course, we realize this situation had no future from the start, yet, one keeps hoping their love will end well.
The supporting cast is excellent. Stanley Holloway is seen as the station master Albert. Joyce Carey is perfect as the woman in charge of the refreshment area of the station where Laura and Alec spend some of their time together. Cyril Raymond makes Fred Jesson, a man who perhaps understand much more than what he lets know. Everly Gregg is seen as the chattering Dolly Messiter.
"Brief Encounter" is one of the best films directed by David Lean, a man who was able to give the film the right tone and made it the classic that it is.
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