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Astonished Heart, The

Director:  Antony Darnborough & Terence Fisher
Year Released:  1950
Rating:  3.0

An accomplished and well-respected psychiatrist (Sir Noël Coward) leaves his loyal life (Celia Johnson) for her best friend (Margaret Leighton) - the two go on a European vacation while the wife stays home in a state of shock/paralysis. As downright brilliant as Coward was as playwright and, in this case, musician as well, he seems poorly cast as the psychiatrist - the shrink's mental decline and nervous breakdown would have been better suited for someone more emotional and affected than Coward, who always seems so in-control and aloof it doesn't seem like losing a lover could cause him to jump off a bridge (Coward, ever so debonair, lets his own words roll off his tongue but is unable to capture the fundamental instability of his own creation). Still, the writing itself is commendable (of course) and Celia Johnson's performance cannot be praised enough - she's able to pull off the restrained torment of a jilted wife with relative assurance (this same nagging worry aided her tremendously in Brief Encounter).

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