Brief Encounter





(David Lean, 1945) BBC Two, 2.05pm A film you can’t see too often, and which constantly yields new angles of approach. It’s that apparent anomaly, an English story of raging passion, but of course it’s also about its tight containment behind tweedy exteriors, as married Laura (Celia Johnson) falls for dashing doctor Alec (Trevor Howard). It has been read as a manifesto for desire as well as a conservative case for its suppression, and as one of the great covertly queer texts of British cinema, as befits its origins in a Noël Coward play. Mocked and loved in equal proportion – that is, immoderately – it remains inexhaustibly moving. And it achieves the seemingly impossible, making a railway station caff one of the most romantic locales in melodrama.