Forget what you've heard. "Brief Encounter" is an extremely violent film. In fact, it is a violence that no Tarantino or Guy Ritchie could ever come close to. Celia Johnson, as its heroine, Laura, says as much herself: "I've fallen in love. I'm an ordinary woman. I didn't think such violent things could happen to ordinary people."
One of the first British films to have praise heaped on it abroad, it is shot in noirish black and white to the music of Rachmaninov. David Lean ably directed Noel Coward's script for this intensely passionate film in which almost nothing happens. In short, Laura gets a piece of grit in her eye (those beastly trains!) and falls desperately in love with the kind stranger (Trevor Howard) who removes it. Romance follows over a series of chance, then planned, meetings all given drama by the emphasis on their brevity.
It is told in flashback in an imaginary confession to her husband (Cyril Raymond) whom she dares not tell out of profound compassion. Without the insight her narration gives we would perhaps see nothing at all in the railway station buffet where both Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey remind us of the invasive triviality of the everyday with a suspicious intimation that the lower classes have no emotional life.
If you can stomach this and the excruciatingly affected portrayal of the English middle classes, you'll have, at the very least, a lump in your throat. Less cynical souls will weep buckets.