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The film begins with a scene in which Barbara rings Leonora to tell her that something has happened to Chris. At this point, we don't know who Chris is or what has happened, only that he has lost conciousness. The film then flashes back a year, to when the old friends Barbara and Leonora meet again after having lost contact for many years. Time has not strained their relationship it seems, and Barbara invites Leonora to her house a few days later to meet her husband. Her husband Chris, a pompous, austere psychologist, gets off to a bad start with Leonora. The two despise each other until one night when Barbara has to leave town to look after her mother. Because of this, she is unable to go to the play she had arranged to go with Leonora to. Chris reluctantly decides to go in place of Barbara, and the two hit it off and begin a relationship. Written by
Andy Prowse <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With his typical sophisticated British reserve Noel Coward barely manages to get The Astonished Heart beating before it eventually arrests completely. Coward, the author of one of cinema's classic tales of infidelity Brief Encounter, gives an oh so proper but passionless performance as a loyal marital partner swept up in an unintended romance. Sound familiar? Dr. Christian Faber is totally absorbed with his work as a psychologist while being ably supported by his understanding wife Barbara (Celia Johnson). Enter school girl chum of the past Lenora Vail (Margaret Leighton). Dr.Faber is not impressed at first but the vampish Lenora remains intrigued, pursues and the two dully hook-up. He walks on his wife but overwhelmed with guilt and the fact Leonora is still looking around he sees the folly of his act and contemplates suicide.
Coward isn't the only one chipping in a sub par performance in this mawkish affair of the heart. Leighton's femme fatale is over the top and without boundaries while the magnificent Celia Johnson simply frets and looks wide eyed at the situation as a willing martyr. Neither show any chemistry with Coward who is too wrapped up in his own emotions as he enunciates his predicament in tremolo.
Lifeless performances aside the story itself never takes on much of an urgency outside of the opening scene clue that is the linchpin of this overheated bore of tepid passion and structured decorum. It doesn't even deserve a brief encounter never mind a full viewing.
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