Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Passionate Friends

1949, UK, directed by David Lean

I haven't seen any of David Lean's 1940s films for a long time, partly because I took such exception to Brief Encounter the last time I saw it. Indeed, my reaction was so strongly negative that I wonder whether I shouldn't take another look. In any case, although this film, which ploughs some of the same emotional territory, enjoys nothing like the same reputation I found it to be very engaging. It's certainly not perfect -- the flashbacks within flashbacks were a little awkward without adding much -- but there's a degree of emotional subtlety and sincerity that's very affecting. While Claude Rains is very much the supporting player here as you might expect he makes hay with what he has, particularly in a wonderful scene where he is ostensibly reciting the rather dry details of a recent business meeting but in reality is giving expression to his inner turmoil. The mise en scène is often very interesting, too -- at times quite consciously theatrical in some of the sequences set in Rains' home, or in the pairing of two adjoining rooms which you could easily imagine on the stage, but it works very effectively.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States