Director: David Lean
Screenplay: Noel Coward, Anthony Havelock-Allen, David Lean and Ronald Neame based on the stage play Still Life by Noel Coward
Starring: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond, Everley Gregg
Running Time: 86 minutes
Genre: Drama, romance
Summary: Laura Jesson (Johnson) has a conventional life and a dull, if affectionate, marriage to Fred Jesson (Raymond). By chance, she meets an idealistic doctor, Alec Harvey (Howard) in a railway station. Alec is also married. The two strike up a friendship and are soon meeting up every week. Eventually they come to realise that they have fallen in love, but because they are both married, and the scandal that their relationship would create, they are unable to act on their feelings.
Opinions: This is one of the classic films about "forbidden love" which remains popular to this day, and is screened frequently on television. The movie is very much a product of it's time and place, and the attitudes and values that the two lead characters have, which were very common at the time, could be seen as odd by many people today.
Not much really happens in the movie, much of which consists of the characters having awkward conversations on the street and in railway cafes. The performances are very good from the two leads, who create a strong impression of powerful emotions barely repressed. It's one of the classic evocations of the traditional British "stiff upper lip".
The screenplay, based on a one-act stage play by Noel Coward, is impressive even if some of the dialogue is slightly stilted at times, and some of the humour comes across as forced. The movie is very well-crafted and visually impressive, with crisp black and white photography, and much of it being shot on location in a busy railway station.
The film is powerfully dramatic and is definitely worth watching for it's evocation of another time and place.
"We're neither of us free to love each other. There's too much in the way. There's still time, if we control ourselves and behave like sensible human beings. There's still time."
- Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) in Brief Encounter
Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter