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Brief Encounter (1945)
First of all, anyone who decides to watch this movie must not be ignorant to the British way of life in the 1940's, particularly in the case of the middle class. It focuses on a woman in her thirties who, being married to a dullard with children, finds a new, exciting, yet adulterous love with a doctor. Being set in the 1940's, the shamefulness of adultery is even greater in society, and seems almost as if it does not exist. This, therefore, is why the relationship is doomed from the start, and both lovers are unfree to let their passion and love overtake. A previous reviewer of this film appeared to detest the film for it's lead female star's performance, the dialogue and basic storyline, for reasons that suggested they did not understand, or were unaware of the behaviour of society, and different social classes during the period it was filmed and set. Although opinions vary, I think I can safely say that this film is fantastic, and beautifully acted, written (Noel Coward), shot and directed (David Lean). If you are oblivious to what you should expect from this film, at least give it a chance. So many people believe this to be one of the greatest films ever made, and certainly Britain's finest classic. The archaicness of the language, although very British and very proper, gives the film part of its superiority and integrity; and if you really can't get to grips with it, then just have a little giggle at it instead. Another contribution to the film's beauty is the location and how it is shot. Naturally a black and white film, it is set mainly at a railway station, where the unfortunate lovers first, and often, meet. Shots of the steam engines passing in and out and racing by, silhouettes of the characters on lamp lit streets and various camera angles representing the character's state of mind, make this film particularly unique.
The diegetic music is that of the classical Rachmaninov concerto, which only makes the film more dramatic and poignant. Also, the occasional powerful sound effects of the trains, contribute to the feelings of the main female lead character, mostly when she is guilt ridden and fearful about the affair. This brings us to the performances. Trevor Howard plays Dr Alec Harvey, whilst Celia Johnson plays Laura Jesson. Howard acts to perfection, with a handsome charming look, and flawless gentlemanly qualities, adding slight sneakiness, which allows his character to persuade Laura into confessing her mutual love for him. Yet it is without a doubt a film dominated by the graceful screen presence of Celia Johnson. She is magnificent as the distraught lovelorn woman, who can make any female viewer completely relate to the feelings of loosing the man they truly love. The grief in her voice reveals her pain and a sense of drained, non feeling acquired after having to let go of Alec, and never seeing him again. She is a natural beauty with, what Alec mentions, her wide eyes, and despite the previous reviewer disagreeing, an outstanding, well pronouncing speaking voice, projected mainly(and most memorably)in narration throughout the film. You may more than likely find the idea of a man and woman, who know very little about each other, falling in love a bit far fetched, however you may also let that slip aside, as the love between them becomes tragic and heartachingly painful due to the circumstances, and because both characters are restricted from taking it too far, and have to learn to let go.
Please give this film a chance, as I'm sure you won't find anything else quite like it.