Brief Encounter


Brief Encounter

Critics Consensus

Brief Encounter adds a small but valuable gem to the Lean filmography, depicting a doomed couple's illicit connection with affecting sensitivity and a pair of powerful performance.



Reviews Counted: 41

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User Ratings: 11,138


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Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.2/5

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Movie Info

On a cafe at a railway station, housewife Laura Jesson meets Dr. Alec Harvey. Although they are already married, they gradually fall in love with each other. They continue to meet every Thursday on the small cafe, although they know that their love is impossible

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Trevor Howard
as Alec Harvey
Celia Johnson
as Laura Jesson
Joyce Carey
as Myrtle Bagot
Cyril Raymond
as Fred Jesson
Stanley Holloway
as Albert Godby
Everley Gregg
as Dolly Messiter
Margaret Barton
as Beryl Waters
Valentine Dyall
as Stephen Lynn
Marjorie Mars
as Mary Norton
Nuna Davey
as Mrs. Rolandson
Irene Handl
as Organist
Wilfred Babbage
as Policeman
Avis Scott
as Waitress
Jack May
as Boatman
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News & Interviews for Brief Encounter

Critic Reviews for Brief Encounter

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (12)

Audience Reviews for Brief Encounter


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

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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.

Eric Shankle
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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

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 isnâ(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.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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