Film / Brief Encounter

A 1945 British film directed by David Lean, written by NoŽl Coward and starring Celia Johnson (who got a Best Actress nomination) and Trevor Howard.

Laura is a suburban housewife in a rather dull marriage; one day, while waiting in the refreshment room of a train station, a doctor called Alec helps her remove some grit from her eye. He is also married, but over time the two of them strike up a friendship, which blossoms into something more. But this being middle-class suburban Britain in the 1940s, they cannot possibly be together; Alec is called away for medical work in South Africa, and the two lovers are parted.

The story is told In Medias Res from Laura's point of view after the pair separate as she travels home


  • Anguished Declaration of Love: While reciprocated, they are both married and they both know it would only end badly.
  • Caught in the Rain
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Laura lights one up after she has to beat a hasty retreat from the apartment Alec's using, after the owner shows up.
  • Creator Cameo: That's Coward's voice as the train station announcer.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Laura and Alec don't get each other, but they both have partners they love.
  • Driven to Suicide: Laura goes to jump onto the train tracks when she ends her relationship with Alec but doesn't.
  • Dutch Angle: The camera tips into a sharp Dutch Angle when Laura gets the idea to throw herself onto the train tracks. When the moment passes and she doesn't do it, the camera angle straightens up again.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Alec and Laura separate at the end so the rest of the story is about their romance and how.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Averted. Laura and Alec are both married and know each other is their soul mate, but remain with their respective partners because it's the right thing to do.
  • Happily Married: Both Laura and Alec.
  • Held Gaze: Many.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The opening title card identifies the movie as "Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter'".
  • In Medias Res: The story starts out near the end with Laura and Alec separating, and the rest is Laura recounting their time together.
  • Leitmotif: Rachmaninov's Second Piano concerto.
  • Meet Cute: Alec helps Laura remove from grit from her eye at the train station.
  • Moment Killer: Dolly Messiter is this trope personified—she interrupts Laura and Alec at the worst possible time.
  • Motor Mouth: Dolly, who just will not shut up. In one scene the camera shows a tight closeup of Dolly's lips flapping away while Laura thinks "I wish you'd stop talking."
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Laura and Alec didn't intend for it to become romantic, but it eventually does.
  • Romantic False Lead: Laura and Alec decide that they are this for each other and go back to their respective partners.
  • Second-Person Narration: A rare film example of this trope: Laura's narration is an imaginary monologue directed to her husband, whom she addresses as "you."
  • Sleeping Single: Maybe that's why Laura is so open to the attentions of another man.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: How Alec and Laura separate though nobody does any running.
  • You're Cute When You're Angry:
    Albert: "You look wonderful when you're angry... just like an avenging angel.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Both Laura and Alec.