The problem with cinephilia is that eventually one feels that they begin to run out of ‘essential’ films to see. The act of watching movies is continually a process of discovery, but as one continues to watch films not as a hobby but as a part of their life-blood, it becomes harder to find individual titles that are revelatory and profound, movies that shape an alter not only your conception of cinema, but art and life as well. The more you see, the fewer new experiences you have – not only because you may have traversed the corners of whatever canon you’ve chosen to cover, but because individual titles become objects of interest accentuating a larger understanding of the medium rather than individual exploits of incredible worth. To see a truly outstanding film, then, becomes an even more rare and valuable occurrence. David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1946) is simply one of those films that I’m surprised I hadn’t seen before, not because I have any pretensions toward having anything approaching a “comprehensive” knowledge of film, but because it’s a work of such profound perfection that it seems only natural that this movie would have been made in this precise way. It’s an audacious, incongruous film, exceptional and unmatched. It’s a devastating and beautiful film that I’m not surprised has survived time’s test, for its themes are as insightful and resonant as its storytelling is engrossing and affecting.