“The emotion is in the eyes” of Celia Johnson
When you study acting, you hear repeatedly the phrase “the emotion is in the eyes”. Indeed, we all understand this concept when we experience good acting. The same concept that the visual effects industry struggles so much to replicate in CGI characters. But how you’re supposed to act when there is no action in the scene, just a though narrated with voice over in post-production? In the film Brief Encounter (1945), Celia Johnson gives a master class on the subject, offering a definitive meaning of the sentence “the emotion is in the eyes”.
Although the film tells a heartbreaking story, it does not feel heavy in comparison to modern dramas, where you often have to take a shower or watch an episode of Friends to balance the darkness afterward. This lightness that the film provokes is attributed to the sweet moments we have thought the story, like the scene where Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) falls from the boat during his romantic ride with Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson); or when they make fun of the terrible cello player at the restaurant, discovering later that she also is the organ player at the movies.
It is impressive to see a picture from the 1940s presented almost in its entirety inside the consciousness flow of the protagonist, Laura. Evidentially, you can see the influence that the author Virginia Wolf had on the director, David Lean, not only because of the deeper panorama of the character’s inner journey but also because Wolf’s novels had the English atmosphere as the background for her stories. The result is a film that, in 2019, still is fun and easy to watch.