Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Brief Encounter

(UK, 1945)

Directed by David Lean early in his career, adapted from a play by Noel Coward. It details an affair that never quite happens between Trevor Howard, a doctor, and Celia Johnson, who is married. They meet at a train station and gradually fall in love, but can meet only once a week, when it wouldn’t raise suspicion. The film is indeed brief, only 86 minutes, but ingeniously structured. We see their last meeting in the first scene, and we know there is tension between them but we don’t know what it’s all about. Then we flash back and see how the affair develops quite innocently, and the torture each goes through, leading to a replay of the first scene, only now we know how terrible things are, and the scene looks entirely different. This is a masterpiece of British understatement, and one of the best romantic movies of all time.