Parents' Guide to

Brief Encounter

By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Classic romance has adultery, smoking, suicide reference.

Movie NR 1946 86 minutes
Brief Encounter Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Is It Any Good?

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For a movie where it appears that very little happens, this classic 1940s British romantic drama packs an almighty emotional punch. At the center of Brief Encounter is a relatively chaste relationship that is never allowed to fully ignite, indicative of the moral restrictions of the time period. But the underlying tension between goodness, stability, and responsibility, and the unruly temptations of romance and passion are universal and timeless. If the film were remade today, no doubt more physical intimacy might be used to indicate the intensity of the affair. Yet director David Lean's desire to express with longing looks and desperate swoons show just how easily an emotion can turn from a lightheaded flutter to a stab in the heart when the outside world comes crashing in. It's what makes this such an iconic film.

Both central performances are strong, but it is Johnson's Oscar-nominated turn as Laura that really keeps the story on track. The primness of her demeanor deftly at odds with the urgency in her eyes, and her conflicted and painful voiceover acting as the confession to her husband that she knows she will never really deliver, is captivating. It's a film where not a lot happens, yet so much is explored, and is an enduring love story that puts many less-nuanced modern romances to shame.

Movie Details

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