Brief Ecstasy

A remarkable film, thematically not dissimilar to Brief Encounter, except that lust is given a fair crack of the whip. A strong erotic undertow runs through the witty opening scene: in the exchange of covert glances as Williams comes into a snack bar where Travers is having coffee; in the 'accidental' pawing of her person as he mops the coffee he has spilt; in the over-pitched fury with which she slaps him. His subsequent apology accepted, a superb montage (soft music, silhouettes, champagne, whispered exchanges) heralds a brief night of ecstasy, after which he announces his imminent departure for India. Five years later, he returns to find her the beloved wife of a distinguished, much older scientist (Lukas), and desire is reborn. The excellent script plays fair by all the characters (one scene has Lukas start skipping gaily upstairs to bed in his wife's wake, only to pause, puffing, before he makes it). And Travers' inner struggle, no becoming yes then no again as she realises what she means to her husband, is beautifully detailed in both performance and Gréville's expressionist-tinged direction, which makes it clear that her choice of love is made at the bitter cost of the other thing.

Release details

Duration: 71 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Edmond T Gréville
Screenwriter: Basil Mason
Cast: Paul Lukas
Linden Travers
Hugh Williams
Marie Ney
Renee Gadd
Fred Withers
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