1945, black and white film, produced by Noel Coward (who wrote the play 'Still Life' that the film is based on) and directed by David Lean.
Stars Celia Johnson as Laura Jesson, and Trevor Howard as Alec Harvey.
It's an old film, and some people don't like it for that reason alone; and it's about passion, but passion that never quite rears its head - and some people don't like it for that either. But it is, quite simply, breathtaking.
Laura is happily married. She goes into town every Thursday to do, we suppose, housewifey things - she also goes to the cinema. Alec, also happily married, is a doctor. He's in town every Thursday too. One eventful Thursday, Laura gets a cinder in her eye (from the steam-trains - it's an old film) and Alec, nearby, does the decent thing and removes it for her.
Innocent enough, certainly. And, after talking for a little while, they go their respective ways. The following week they bump into each other again - and it starts to become a regular thing. They go to the cinema, they laugh a lot, and, in fact, realise that life can be an awful lot better than just being 'happily married'.
It goes pear-shaped of course (what doesn't?); he arranges a house for them to spend some time in - she baulks at it, especially when his friend returns and assumes there's something going on less savoury than there is. At this point, it all seems to have just been a horrible affair - it's been nothing of the sort, but Laura especially can't find anything tangible to define it as anything else.
He's going off to some foreign place on business. The 'affair' breaks down. She returns to her husband and children who are unaware of any of what's been happening every Thurday.
So why's it so good?
Well it's primarily the emotional restraint that each of them have to have in order to conform to the notions of social decency around at the time. It's also the way it's told too. It begins with Laura getting on the train after the last time she's seen Alec. She is talking to a female friend of hers. Obviously she wants to be able to think about Alec and the fact that she's not going to see him again - but the friend won't stop talking. From inside Laura's head we hear, 'Shut up. Shut up. I wish you'd shut up,' but she's perfectly calm and polite. When she gets home she's greeted by her husband. She sits down to sew, and he does the crossword. She wants to tell him how she feels but can't. Again we hear her thoughts as she tells herself what she would tell her husband if she could. We gather the story in flashback with the knowledge of how it's ended, and how stultifying her suburban life is. Heart-breaking.
The story itself seems to be set in the home counties. But the station used for filming was Carnforth in Lancashire. They don't even change the station signs - you can see 'Leeds' on some of them. Miserably, Carnforth station is now in massive disrepair - hardly a tribute to one of the greatest British films.