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Girl Uninterrupted: Brief Encounters With Love

Girl Uninterrupted: Brief Encounters With Love

“I didn’t think such violent things could happen to an ordinary woman. I’ve fallen in love.” This is how Laura speaks to herself. A monologue with the grandeur and finality of death, with a complete submission to the world.

The thing with love is that it relies almost too entirely on chance. We are only able to love the people we love, because we are alive at the same time. Thank goodness, you’re here. You tell your lover, I cannot comprehend world where you do not exist. Even just a slight change in the past could change the present, could change who you are, and who your loved ones are. In matters of love, we always owe it to chance.

“First comes the instantaneous capture (I am ravished by an image); then a series of encounters (dates, telephone caIIs, letters, brief trips), during which I ecstatically “explore” the perfection of the loved being.”
––Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse

The same can be said about Alec and Laura, in David Lean’s adaptation of Brief Encounter (1945).   Alec is a doctor and he is stoic, dignified, moralistic to a fault. Laura is demure, refined, and most importantly, proper. They were commoners who believed in marriages and morals, and totally foreign to the concept of love. So it is by coincidence that Alec and Laura encounter each other, in a train station’s tea shop, where Alec helps Laura remove something that has been caught in her eye.

When Laura comes home, she is lost. She has just realised that she must return to her previous role of a faithful wife and a loving mother, that she must wash the dishes, hang up the clothes, sweep the floors, commit herself to the life that for a while, she has found fulfilling. She realised that her entire life has been a constant sacrifice. And suddenly, none of it matters to her anymore.

The last time they met, they were strangers. The pair decides to meet every Thursday in the city, in department stores, the cinema, restaurants, and the station’s teahouse where they always say goodbye to each other. They begin falling in love, but only within the spheres of the city they occupy in. In this film, we become witnesses of their affair, without the recognition of a holy matrimony. We watch how their love unravels, much like we think a marriage should be, full of passion, respect, and consideration. We watch how much their love is able to bloom within the periphery of the city.

“The “sequel” is the long train of sufferings, wounds, anxieties, distresses, resentments, despairs, embarrassments, and deceptions to which I fall prey, cease-lessly living under the threat of a downfall which would envelop at once the other, myself, and the glamorous encounter that first revealed us to each other.”
––Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse

Of course, there is no future for the pair. This is not a film that will allow love, however deserving its recipients are, to fulfil itself. This is a film about chance. This is about restrained, commitment, dignity. This is a film about loss. The pair refuse to abandon years of service for several hours of momentary weakness, and in true middle-class fashion, Alec sends himself away to Johannesburg, in order to run from his desire for her.

When Laura comes home, she is lost. She has just realised that she must return to her previous role of a faithful wife and a loving mother, that she must wash the dishes, hang up the clothes, sweep the floors, commit herself to the life that for a while, she has found fulfilling. She realised that she has sacrificed the only reason for her life. And suddenly, none of it matters to her anymore.

The last time they touched, they were strangers. Whatever their passion has expressed itself through, holding hands under the table, embraces in the midst of the snow, deep kisses, it does not amount to the way they said goodbye: with a brief, impersonal, squeeze of the shoulder. In this film, we become witnesses of their death, without the recognition of a proper funeral. We watch how their love darkness, much like we think a divorce should be, full of anguish, sorrow, and despair. We watch how much their love is able to wither within the periphery of the city.

“The encounter is radiant; later on, in memory, the subject will telescope into one the three moments of the amorous trajectory; he will speak of “love’s dazzling tunnel.”
––Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse

The thing with chances is that the most significant ones involve a form of heartbreak. We are only able to experience heartbreak, because we are alive at the same time. So you have gone, You tell your lover, And the world still exists. Whatever encounters the world has granted us, it will eventually become nothing more but memories. In matters of chance, we must always acquiesce with heartbreak.

“I know that this is the beginning of the end. Not the end of my loving you but the end of our being together.” This is how Alec and Laura speaks to each other. A dialogue with the grandeur and finality of death, with a complete submission to love.

Film Selection 02: Chances

Film Selection 02: Chances

The Northern Diaries: Suomenlinna

The Northern Diaries: Suomenlinna