‘Thank you for coming back to me...’
‘They don’t make them like this anymore’, people often lament about old movies. In terms of the romance genre, they genuinely don’t make them like Brief Encounter anymore. And it’s easy to see why. David Lean’s classic is utterly hysterical from start to finish. Not funny hysterical. Suffering from hysteria hysterical. At one point, the female lead is so lovelorn that she actually says out loud ‘I wish I was dead’. This is a grown woman. The reason they don’t make them like this anymore is that they would be laughed out of town. But there is something so wonderfully innocent and poignant about the sweeping romances of the 30s and 40s, and Brief Encounter is arguably the best of the lot of them…
Despite being married to one of the most benevolent, kindest men of all time, Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) finds herself embroiled in a tangled web of simmering romance and forbidden longing following a chance encounter with dashing doctor Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard).
First of all. This encounter. It really is brief. What a joy it is to watch an old film that is less than 90 minutes long. Lovely stuff. But director David Lean (nice bit of nominative determinism for you there) keeps things simple whilst also managing to pack plenty into this classic tale of loss and yearning. I loved the melodramatic score. I loved all of the performances, even the lesser seen characters are wonderful, and I loved the fact that (spoiler) there is no happy ending. They should probably have just binned off the romance genre the moment that the credits rolled at the premiere of this movie. It’s never been surpassed.