100 Word Review – Brief Encounter (1945)

“You know what’s happened, don’t you?… I’ve fallen in love with you.”

Based on the play by Noel Coward, and directed by David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge Over The River Kwai), this is a quintessentially British romantic drama, set during the Second World War.

Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) meets Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) in a railway station, and continues to meet him there week after week. Theirs would be a perfect romance, were they not married to other people.

This film is wonderful. Told in part through Laura’s inner dialogue, the end result is charming, repressed and beautiful.

100 Word Review – Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Well aware that I sound like a sports commentator, this really is a film of two halves.

Set in Italy in the build-up to WWII, a Jewish man falls in love, starts a family and uses his imagination in an attempt to shield them from the harsh realities.

Roberto Benigni co-wrote, directed and starred in this moving and emotionally draining portrayal of world events on a personal scale. It is at moments hilarious, the first half is full of Chaplin-esque humour. The second half is…

Just watch it. You will laugh, and you will cry.

Here’s Benigni receiving his Oscar:

It’s Not Just For Christmas; It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Famously known as one of the most tear inducing Christmas films ever made, I would like to fight for this to be an all-year-round feature.

Starring James Stewart (reason 1 to watch it all year round) as kind-hearted George Bailey, who finds himself out of money and luck, unable to support his family through the festive season. Thinking they would be better off without him, George tries to take his life (reason 2 – not exactly festive). Stopped by an angel called Clarence (Henry Travers), George is shown exactly what the world would be like if he had not been born. As a result, 80% of the film is not set at Christmas (reason3).

Without wanting to give too much away, Frank Capra’s award winning film (reason 4 – it was nominated for 5 Oscars, reason 5 – it’s number 26 in the top 250 films on IMDb) walks us through one man’s life and the ways in which his small acts of kindness rippled across everyone he met.

Released after the Second World War, it unsurprisingly features a lot of patriotism and army references (reason 6). George feels helpless for not being able to fight for his country, but is reassured that his work at home in small town America has held everything together. He is as important as the people who died fighting.

This is not a film about Christmas. This is about the aftermath of the Second World War, the people who were lost during it whose lives were not spent in vain and those who were left behind trying to find meaning after so much devastation.