1.37:1, 1945, english, united kingdom
“It's awfully easy to lie when you know that you're trusted implicitly. So very easy, and so very degrading.”


Brief Encounter

A beautiful, if painfully slow film. It’s full of meaningful looks, and moments alone. Definitely not the best choice for every mood, but if you get it right it’s remarkable.

There is a certain kind of prison, whose walls are made by living a life without passion. Certainly every moment in our lives can’t be passionate. We would explode. Like all emotions, it requires balance. But to live a life where everything is medium, where everything is just fine, is to be slowly suffocated by a thousand tiny pillows. It’s a death of the spirit, while the body can remain completely comfortable. Certainly, these are first world problems, but they’re still real.

This is a story, told entirely in flashback, of an almost affair. Right from the very beginning, we realize that we’re seeing two people who are in love, but who are married to other people. They have met accidentally, and finally found in each other the spirit of life they’re missing in their own lives. The film mostly focuses on Laura, who lives a perfectly nice life, with a perfectly nice husband. Both her and her paramour, Alec, are in the same boat. They are simply playing out the choices they’ve already made, with no real joy to be found.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. One of the most interesting things about this film is that Laura’s homelife is pretty decent. Her kids love her, and she loves them. Her husband loves her in his own way, he’s more distracted than anything. That’s what’s so brilliant about it really, this isn’t a woman who is in a bad situation. She’s in a perfectly alright situation, but she’s lacking anything to give her life a spark. She goes about her routine, and moves through the world, completely without incident. It must be mind numbing.

In Alec she’s found someone who wants to talk to her. Who wants to hang out with her. Who finds being with her interesting. Her husband seems to have long since taken her for granted. The overwhelming Britishness on display in this film is incredible. Everyone is too polite to speak up for themselves, too genteel to get what they need. It’s both a breath of fresh air, and a suffocation. This small, intimate film, has an immense power to move.