The One about Noel Coward and David Lean’s “Brief Encounter”

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An endearing romance classic about a doomed love affair.

“Brief Encounter” is filmmaker David Lean’s film adaptation of Noel Coward’s play “Still Life” and their final collaboration together.

It’s quite interesting to watch a film such as “Brief Encounter” because we see extra-marital affairs in film as common place in cinema. But we don’t really see a film that focuses on the actual affair and how one deals with it emotionally. In this case, through the eyes of Laura Jesson as she takes the viewer from the beginning of the relationship and seeing how it matured, to talking about the female friends that she has and just the emotional turmoil she goes through of knowing she has a family but knowing that she loves Alec so much.

Both know they love each other but they have significant others and children and they are behaving inappropriately that it starts to take its toll on her. For Alec, he could care less…he’s very much in love with Laura but for Laura, it’s the lying and hiding that starts to break her each and every day. She knows its wrong but her heart continues to tell her to go for love and she is torn between her conflicting emotions.

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It’s also important to emphasize that back in the mid-1940′s, extra-marital affairs was not as significant as they are today. Sure, divorce rate is high now, extra-marital affairs seem to be commonplace in cinema and people tend to go for personal happiness while family was emphasized heavily during that time. But Laura’s life was mundane and like many housewives, a common routine of taking care of the husband and children and it was a repetition of the same things over and over again. She was an ordinary woman that did not expect this to happen to her.

We definitely get two different perspectives of the wife and her obligation to family with Noel Coward’s “Brief Encounter” and “Easy Virtue”. Both female leads are torn with what they should do with their situation as married wives but with Laura, there is nothing to gain by pursuing personal happiness. For Laura, it is a different time, a different era and she has more to lose.

Both Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard provide a fantastic performance. I enjoyed the cinematography and the use of “Piano Concerto no. 2″ by Sergei Rachmaninoff (played by Eileen Joyce) throughout the film.

Overall, “Brief Encounter” is an enjoyable film that keeps things simple.

A romantic film showing us how love can happen unexpectedly but how love can easily be lost. “Brief Encounter” is definitely worth watching.


 

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Dennis A. Amith