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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why a remake of "Brief Encounter" would be even briefer

I watched "Brief Encounter" again this morning and can report it's lost none of its power. They've remade just about every other classic film from the golden age but not this one. It must have passed through some agent's mind. With Kate Winslet, maybe, and possibly Hugh Laurie. But then they will have screened it and realised immediately it would be impossible. The film turns on the question of whether happily-married but bored Home Counties lady Laura will cheat on her husband with the equally-married Alec. Here's a key exchange.
Alec: We know we really love each other. That's true. That's all that really matters.
Laura: It isn't all that really matters. Other things matter too. Self-respect matters and decency.
A contemporary audience wouldn't have any patience with Laura. It would demand that she surrendered immediately. It would probably regard her insistence on decency as another word for hypocrisy. To expedite proceedings the scriptwriters would probably give her an alibi in the shape of an abusive husband. The dilemma would be dissolved in no time. The film would last fifteen minutes, tops.