Previously Played


  • 1:00 4:25 8:00

$7 Member   $12.50 Regular

NEW DCP RESTORATION restored by the BFI and ITV Studios Global Entertainment with funding from The David Lean Foundation.


Directed by David Lean


[highest rating]
“SHEER PERFECTION! The gold standard of tragic romances whose influence can still be seen to this day. Johnson and Howard’s repressed passion could fuel an English tank battalion, and the shadowy black-and-white cinematography—a love story drenched in noirish tones—looks especially gorgeous in this new 4K restoration.”

– Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

(1945) “Nothing lasts, really.” In the shabby refreshment room of Milford Station, as an unwanted third party natters on, a couple sits quietly. They will never see each other again. And, as her husband works on his crossword, suburban housewife Celia Johnson reflects back on her seven meetings with equally-married doctor Trevor Howard, and the flashbacks begin, unforgettably underscored by Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 playing on the radio. Both expanded and contracted from Noël Coward’s single set (the train station) one act (spanning a year), the most romantic of films, with quiet, ordinary people secretly suffering feelings they’d only read about — and a box office phenomenon that spawned scores of knock-offs (and even inspired Billy Wilder’s The Apartment), with Johnson’s heartbreaking performance garnering the New York Film Critics’ Award and an Oscar nomination (unheard of at the time for a foreign film performance), with another nomination going to Lean — the first for direction of a non-Hollywood movie. Approx. 86 min. DCP.




"There was nothing as painfully romantic in Western cinema before BRIEF ENCOUNTER debuted in 1945—and hardly anything since to top it."
– Ryan Wells, Cinespect

“One of the most vivid and impassioned romances ever committed to celluloid!”
– Tom Huddleston, Time Out (London)

"This women's picture looks noir. That's not just the lustrous, shadowed lighting by Robert Krasker (he did Odd Man Out and The Third Man, too) but also the feeling of urban enclosure in the railway station, where the lovers seem caught between railway protocol and the thunderous nonstop passage of the express... Brief Encounter is not often listed among the noirs, but it is a film about traps, feeling guilty, and being imprisoned against your own nature. Alec and Laura are in love with each other, and in love with love, and it might be that a few ecstatic hours in bed could avert tragedy or divorce. But as it is, they are stranded... by the love scenes that one feels Coward and Lean would rather not see, just as the audience of 1945 would have been horrified by them. Celia Johnson's large eyes are naked to our scrutiny, but that's as far as that word could go—all of which leaves the imagining more intense."
– David Thomson, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies

“[The] not-so-young, not-so-illicit love between two respectably married and nice people documented furtively and unhappily and exultantly in Kardomah cafés and railway buffets and super cinemas until lies and small deceits so tarnish their joy that they tear themselves asunder. Much of the power of the love passages is due to the acting of Celia Johnson, who, without manufactured glamour or conventional good looks, magnificently portrays the wife and mother meeting passion for the first time; who wants to die because of it and goes back to her husband and the books of Kate O’Brien, knowing that this golden brief encounter will die in her memory. This is perhaps the real twist of its everyday tragedy.”
– Richard Winnington

“Overpoweringly right in its intimate dissection of the two leading characters, who may have been picked out of a drawer marked English Types A, but down the years remain fresh, memorable and moving in one’s memory.”
– Leslie Halliwell

“Its simplicity remains unsurpassed.”
– Derek Malcolm, The Guardian

"Brief Encounter is on a small scale, intimate, and probing. Everything is obvious and yet nothing is. Laura Jesson (Johnson), its suburban heroine, may not reach the dramatic solution of an Anna Karenina but what she does experience is no less poignant. We share her joys and sorrows of the moment until they carry her to the edge of tragedy. It cannot be seen entirely, however, as tragedy for there is an element of values and choice. Life is not simple and the greatness of the film lies in its awareness of this complexity."
– Liam O'Leary, Film Reference