Paul Malikkal

Review

Brief Encounter (1945)

Paul Malikkal

File this under “Movies I Want To Love, but Can’t.”

I was hoping I’d warm up to this more upon rewatching it. And I did, to a great degree, as I was amazed by so much of the film— Celia Johnson’s aching performance, the sweeping, melancholy score, the introspective voiceover, and the ingenious framing device— but I can’t shake the feeling I had the first time I saw the film: It feels like a novel’s worth narrative squeezed into the length of a short story. Alec admits his feelings for Laura so early into their affair that I find it difficult to believe they could’ve developed feelings that strong for one another so quickly. The blossoming of their affair feels so truncated to me that the film’s tragic final act feels rather unearned. I almost wish there was an Extended Cut of the film somewhere waiting to be unearthed because I think even 15-30 minutes more of Laura and Alec falling for one another would make this movie feel exponentially more believable and resonant to me. Oh, well. As it is now, there’s still a lot to love about it.

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