Brief Encounter (1945)

Turbulent passion and middle-class restraint combine in uniquely English style when a married woman falls for a doctor she meets at a railway station.

Having graduated from editor to co-director on Noël Coward’s In Which We Serve (1942), David Lean’s first three solo works as director were all Coward adaptations, culminating in this skilful opening-out of the 1936 play Still Life.

Trapped in a suburban marriage, brittle housewife Laura (Celia Johnson) struggles with her passion for dashing doctor Alec (Trevor Howard). The film’s blend of the middle-class everyday, Robert Krasker’s atmospheric black and white cinematography and Rachmaninoff’s swooning 2nd Piano Concerto remains powerfully affecting. The film quivers with pent-up emotion in a way that must have been even more potent on its release in 1945 – just months after the end of World War II – than it is today.

1945 United Kingdom
Directed by
David Lean
Produced by
Noël Coward
Written by
Noël Coward, David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Ronald Neame
Featuring
Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway
Running time
86 minutes

Ranked in The Greatest Films of All Time poll

Sight and Sound

Who voted for Brief Encounter

Critics

Ruth Barton
Ireland
Elisabet Cabeza
Spain
Anna Cale
UK
Mike D'Angelo
USA
Anne Gjelsvik
Norway
Elinor Groom
UK
Benjamin Lee
USA
Blair McClendon
USA
Brian McFarlane
Australia
David Pirie
UK
Sophia Satchell-Baeza
UK
Sanjeev Verma
India
Melanie Williams
UK
Brianna Zigler
USA

Directors

Matt Johnson
Canada
Nora Twomey
Clement Virgo
Canada

Articles related to Brief Encounter

10 great

10 great films set at train stations

By Scott Jordan Harris

10 great films set at train stations
The Greatest Films of All Time

The Greatest Films of All Time… in 1952

The Greatest Films of All Time… in 1952
10 great

10 great films about brief encounters

By David Morrison

10 great films about brief encounters
Load more