It’s a very British affair for Lean

A love affair of chaste touches and longing looks against the drab backdrop of a railway station cafe, this Noel Coward-penned very British tale of near-infidelity sees Celia Johnson’s buttoned-down housewife slowly melt over the course of a series of stolen afternoons before the charm of Trevor Howard’s gentlemanly doctor.

Carried along on the perpetual melancholy of Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto no. 2, David Lean’s 1945 classic is one long listless sigh towards an inevitably doomed conclusion.

It’s tempting to read for a damning indictment of the era’s repressiveness from the homosexual Coward, but this bittersweet tale remains a benchmark of romantic cinema.

Brief Encounter screens at the Dunamaise on Tuesday, February 4.


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