The Passionate Friends

Director: David Lean
Year Released: 1949
Rating: 2.0

Two people desperately in love with each other, Mary (Ann Todd) and Steven (Trevor Howard) split up (for some reason) but keep 'reuniting' as the years go on, much to the consternation of Mary's wealthy traveling husband (Claude Rains), who promises her a life of luxury without the burning passion Steven can provide. Sorry, Mary, but you can't have everything. Despite this being based on a novel by H.G. Wells it is markedly inferior in all aspects to Lean's considerably more sophisticated and mature Brief Encounter made only four years prior (why he chose to make the same basic story twice is beyond me; he nailed it the first time) - instead of empathizing with Mary's internal conflict, she merely comes across as irresponsible and flighty, and the notion that one cannot have both passion and stability in a relationship is a tad naive. When Mary tries to pull an Anna Karenina, she is immediately rescued by Rains' dutiful husband, who loves her despite her 'cheating' and will begrudgingly accept her back into his kingdom of wealth (poor, poor Mary).