Film Reviews, Short Review

Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)

3.5/4

Lisa (Joan Fontaine), a young girl in Vienna falls in love with concert pianist Stefan Brand (Louis Jordan) from afar, and spends the next 15 years of her life yearning after him. Like that other great unrequited romance film of the 1940s, David Lean’s Brief Encounter, Letter from an Unknown Woman regards love as a fated thing, but is a much better film. Whereas Brief Encounter seems to treat conservative societal pressures as the invisible hand of fate holding our lovers apart, resulting in a stuffy, archaic film, Max Ophüls directs the lovers in Letter from an Unknown Woman as victims of a higher, mystical force, with exquisitely-designed tracking shots and a vision of opulent, pre-Great-War Vienna compatriots in the grander tragedy.

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