by David Ng
David Lean’s Brief Encounter is a small gem of a movie – neat, compact, and nearly flawless. Running all of 86 minutes, it manages to recreate the inner life of Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson), a suburban housewife who falls in love with another man (Trevor Howard) despite her better judgement. By today’s cynical standards, Brief Encounter feels hopelessly simplistic. The lovers meet innocently, proclaim their love, and then part. But like grandparents who surprise us with their unrequited passion, it moves us in unexpected ways. Brief Encounter is now available on DVD from the Criterion Collection, and features a commentary track, the original theatrical trailer, and a brief restoration demonstration. The movie has been digitally transferred from a fully restored negative. The picture quality is luminous, affording us better glimpses into Celia Johnson’s wonderful saucer eyes. And serving as the theme score, Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto sounds as crisp as ever, framing the entire movie within its chords.
Go to the review