Brief Encounter : That's her story

That's her story

I'm surprised at most of the comments on this board regarding Laura's and Alec's relationship. Everyone discusses it as if it all happened exactly as Laura presents it.

The story is told from Laura's perspective. But she is not a reliable narrator. For example, her voiceover begins by telling us she's happily married. She tells us that she forgot all about the kind stranger who removed the grit from her eye until she met him again. She tells us that even then she doesn't think that much about him. All the while it's very obvious none of that is true. The truth is plain to see on the screen: she was attracted to him from the start. Look at her reactions to him, that's not an indifferent woman, no matter what she's pretending.

Bearing this in mind, I think one has to reconsider a few other things. Naturally, Alec would appear as the pursuer. It would be him who first talks of love. On the other hand, it would be Laura who appears as the scrupulous one, who voices(!) all her doubts, leaving Alec nothing much to add but: "That's how it is for me, too." That is exactly how one experiences and remembers events, subjectively, and makes them fit one's perception of one's own character. The reaction of Alec's friend who lent him his flat, which she can't have witnessed, is supplied by her imagination - it must have been this shameful - because she feels so much shame. Finally, it seems her husband doesn't notice much because she doesn't pay much attention to him while she's constantly thinking about Alec, and that only changes at the end.

Of course, every viewer is entitled to their own take on the characters of Laura, Alec and Fred. I do think though that it helps to keep in mind that what we have is just Laura's point of view.

clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...

Re: That's her story

Nicely thought through.

Re: That's her story

If this story were told from his point of view he would probably embellish it, and maybe the film would be far more interesting. He didn't even get to tap that, what a letdown. If I want to see frustrating films I'll watch something else incredibly boring like Moscow on the Hudson.

Re: That's her story

It's called fiction . . . There's no truth, lies, witnesses to talk to so the story unfolds as the writer sees fit. We buy into it or not. In any case, of course Laura is 'happily married', as she sees it. She doesn't present herself as a woman very aware of her 'true' life. She willingly allows herself to be romanced, as in a fairy tale. We know where it's going all along but she creates a fantasy of what's happening because it enthralls her. My God, given the dull fantasy home life she supposedly lives, why wouldn't she want to be swept away? She dives right into the romance with limited reservations, lying to herself all through and next
thing we know she's lying to everyone, as needed. All this time, her narrative denies what's actually going on before our eyes. Will she wind up with a broken heart? Will her perfectly blind husband suspect anything's amiss in their 'happy' marriage?

I've watched this little soap story a couple times and I wany to wring her and her paramour's necks by halfway through but the film was written to an audience of primarily women in 1945 -- with all the social mores and restrictions attached. It's a wild, but not too wild 'affair' -- no messy sheets. Certainly it's extremely tame but it was clearly what the UK audience wanted at that point after a horrendous war and loss of lives & property-
-- just like nearly all
fantasies are written. It's written to fit the times and her perspective is naive and suggests innocence but she reveals herself as lying to herself, then others, from nearly the get go.

I enjoy both actors but the film is 'time stamped' and smarmy at best -- IMHO. Not a favorite film but worth
watching once, at the least.

Re: That's her story

It's called fiction . . . There's no truth, lies, witnesses to talk to so the story unfolds as the writer sees fit.

You're not saying fiction and an unreliable narrator are incompatible?

Unreliable narrators are a classic fiction device dating back to Aristophanes.

If Lolita were to be taken at face value "as the writer sees fit", we'd know Dolores Haze was a brazen little hussy and poor Humbert Humbert her wide-eyed victim.

Every bit of the tale told in The Usual Suspects came from the mouth and mind of an unreliable narrator.

In this particular case - because Coward drew Celia as such a compassionate, decent character easy to identify with, I'm not sure I buy that anything she relates is suspect. Or at least, not deeply so. But what a great conversation to have, granted an hour and a bottle of wine. It would be a fun scene-by-scene deconstruction.


Nothing to see here, move along.