Brief Encounter

Directed by David Lean
  • United Kingdom
  • 86 minutes
  • 1945

Brief Encounter is such a landmark that no one could ever successfully remake it. The original isn’t just the stiff-upper-lip weepie to rule them all, but the most indelible vision of 1940s England the movies ever gave us. The bustling tea-rooms, the packed matinees: this is a vanished world, perfectly preserved.

In it, there’s something excruciatingly civilised about the idea of forbidden love being slotted into a train timetable, observing some semblance of the proper form, even as Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard long for the impossible fantasy they’ve created.

It’s left to Rachmaninov to supply an ocean of emotional turmoil - everything else in the film is as subtle as the seconds ticking by. Turn the sound down, pretend that’s only grit in your eye, and Brief Encounter is anything but gushing or sentimentalised: like the Japanese masters, David Lean paints heartbreak with perfect decorum.

• Chosen by Actress and Chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan 


This film is part of the My Favourite Film season. You can see this and the five other films in the season for just €40. Go to the booking page for details of the other films or to purchase this season package.

Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard,Stanley Holloway, Cyril Raymond