Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brief Encounter

1945, United Kingdom, directed by David Lean

Although much beloved, particularly in England, Brief Encounter is rather wearing 60 years on. A stagy account of a short affair between two married people, it all seems astonishingly passionless. For all the frantic devotions of love, there's little sense of real physical attraction: it's the least appealing side of British stuff upper lip mythology. While there's something appealingly ordinary about Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, their characters rarely create the sparks that a tale like this requires, while the supporting cast, mostly colourful English 'types', is often quite distracting. The film came out just months after the end of the Second World War, and yet there's little, here, to celebrate about the English way of life; that war, too, is completely, and oddly, absent from any of the conversations around which the film is centered.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States