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Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter (1945)



Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 10,711

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on NoŽl Coward's play "Still Life," Brief Encounter is a romantic, bittersweet drama about two married people who meet by chance in a London railway station and carry on an intense love affair. Sentimental yet down-to-earth and set in pre-World War II England, the film follows British housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson), who is on her way home, but catches a cinder in her eye. By chance, she meets Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard), who removes it for her. The two talk for a few minutes


Drama, Romance, Classics

Sep 7, 2004

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (32) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (4) | DVD (10)

Sheer perfection-the gold standard of tragic romances whose influence can still be seen to this day.

October 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Cyril Raymond manages to invest the stodgy character with a lovable quality.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rarely rises above the level of the old women's magazines.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (5)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some films don't age well, and no doubt Brief Encounter had more of an emotional effect in the social climate of post-war Britain.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comment (1)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An uncommonly good little picture -- and one which is frankly designed to appeal to that group of film-goers who are provoked by the 'usual movie tripe.'

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

... still embraced as one of the most romantic films ever made, and it has earned its reputation.

May 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

Haunting in its evocative mood -- one enhanced by Robert Krasker's cinematography and Lean's meticulous, muted direction -- Brief Encounter primarily hinges on the extraordinary performance by Celia Johnson.

April 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Retrata seu par rom‚ntico com sensibilidade e complexidade (especialmente para a ťpoca), pecando apenas pela insistÍncia em introduzir diversas cenas de alŪvio cŰmico conduzidas por Holloway e Carey.

April 15, 2009
Cinema em Cena

Lovely, small-scale romance by David Lean.

March 17, 2009

Solid romantic classic directed by David Lean. Johnson and Howard are terrific.

October 16, 2008

David Lean finds poetry and lyricism in Noel Coward's initimate dram about the romance between two ordinary people married to others, acted with admirable restraint by Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson.

February 15, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Back in cinemas and welcomed by me.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Stodgy and dated.

August 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (4)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Go and see it again - and try not to giggle at the clipped accents.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

David Lean paints heartbreak with perfect decorum.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

The loveliest period piece imaginable.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Independent

Twee, but you can't help but get involved.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Noble and utterly heartbreaking.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

Beautifully monochrome rendering of a love that cannot be.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A classic of passionate reserve.

February 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Guardian


November 6, 2005

Audience Reviews for Brief Encounter

A delicate and tearful romance that offers a surprisingly honest look into extramarital love given the time it was made, with sole objection being intrusive scenes involving secondary characters which interfere sometimes with the focus and tone of the main plotline.
March 18, 2014

Super Reviewer

Boring. I just didn't care for the relationship or the characters. There's also no story, just multiple scenes of the romance developing (I guess you can call that the story, an uninteresting one at that. Only for romance fans). The movie's running time is less than 90 minutes, but trust me, it feels as if it's over two hours. It never goes anywhere interesting thus making it a dull film.
October 19, 2012
Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

Two strangers meet in a train station waiting area, both happily married yet magnetically drawn to each other in spite of that. David Lean's adult question, set to Sergei Rachmaninoff's yearning 2nd Concerto, simply wonders what we may want once we have everything we want and has endured for its grown up (if dramatic) consideration of the same.
August 16, 2012

Super Reviewer

This is one of the most gorgeous films of the forties, adapted from the play by the prolific Noel Coward; Brief Encounter is one of the more taboo films from that era. Other films that came after it were far more fastidious in their rendering of the sexual aspect to these clumsy affairs, but this film is far more psychological, directing much of the film's emphasis on the emotional toll of lying to yourself and your loved ones. This simple tale is a familiar one to us all: two married people meet and fall in love unexpectedly. The film covers the trials and rollercoaster of denial, adoration, and admonishment that comes with having an affair and not knowing it. The two leads (Broadway legends Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard) act as if they were still on the stage, their facial expressions, the way they hold one another, the way they carry themselves in these desperate times, really spoke volumes about the way the characters interacted with each other. None of the other minimal characters attributed to this film truly matter, not even their significant others. The reason this film works while retaining the same concept we've seen time and again is that there is a level of devotion and attraction not seen in other films. These two don't want to be unfaithful to their spouses. They were perfectly happy with their small lives, eating in the same tea rooms, watching films in crowded theaters, and going home on their respective evening trains, but just a flicker of hope rose between them over time. Laura (Johnson) right away feels the inert danger of seeing a man who isn't her husband, and even confesses to seeing this man the first time they meet, but her husband doesn't see anything the matter and so she is assured that she isn‚(TM)t doing anything wrong. Then over time they start wanting to not be seen together by friends, finding ways to be intimate in the ways they spend their time together, and eventually they can't contain their feelings for one another and express their passion by way of kissing. Director David Lean explores the fact that love is never wrong, while expressly stating that the characters believe the exact opposite. Eventually their small, compact world is torn away from them, and the loss that Laura goes through with his departure, the fact that they never truly get to say goodbye and will never again say hello, is such a bitter and hollow pill to swallow. With the interesting ways this is shot, the texture and feel of this beautiful film and the use of black and white to bring out Johnson and Howard's performances was perpetually brilliant. Just a classic love story unparalleled in this day and age.
January 12, 2012

Super Reviewer

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