Brief Encounter

No. 2 BFI Top 5
David Lean
Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey
Country: UK Year: 1945 Duration: 87 mins Genre: Romance / Drama
One of the most emotionally honest and deeply satisfactory films that have ever been made in this country.
The Observer, 1945

‘It all started on an ordinary day, in the most ordinary place in the world.’ Achingly beautiful, the beloved 1945 romantic drama Brief Encounter is arguably David Lean’s finest work – striking at the heart, and at the soul.

Two strangers meet in a railway station café: a doctor (Trevor Howard) and a housewife (Celia Johnson). Although they are both happily married, they fall in love and continue to meet – even though they know their illicit romance cannot last.

Adapted from a one-act play by Noel Coward, this is director David Lean’s most intimate and poignant film, and it was the first to land him an Oscar nomination. The two leads give pitchperfect performances as the buttoned-down couple who find a new awakening after years of dull routine, while the accompanying musical score makes perfect use of Rachmaninoff's beautiful Second Piano Concerto.

Never melodramatic or moralising (in fact it was banned in Ireland for treating adultery sympathetically), Brief Encounter announced Lean as a poet of cinema and remains a cherished favourite of romantics everywhere.

Cannes Film Festival 1946 Grand Prize of the Festival

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