Ladies, if you’re in need of a good weep, watch out for one of the greatest tearjerkers of them all coming to an arthouse cinema near you..
The film is the lush romantic melodrama Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948), which although very European in style, was actually made by director Max Ophuls while he was in Hollywood.
It stars Joan Fontaine – an actress whose drippiness is normally downright annoying (Rebecca, anyone?) – gives a moving performance as Lisa, a young woman who has been obsessively in love with a suave cad of a concert pianist since she was a girl living in the same apartment block. He has only been aware of her existence for a fraction of the time that she has loved him, and their one encounter has drastic consequences.
It’s easy to feel for Fontaine in this movie. Not only does she capture perfectly the young Lisa’s all-consuming fixation with her neighbour but we can share it – after all, the object of her obsession is played by Louis Jourdan, who seldom looked more swoonsome.
Sumptuously filmed, against the beautiful backdrops of Vienna recreated by Ophuls, this is a real gem of a film – sophisticated and affecting in a way that it probably wouldn’t have been in the hands of most Hollywood directors at that time. If ever a film evoked the exquisite agonies of a young girl in love, this is it…
* Letter From an Unknown Woman is currently playing at selected cinemas across the country. For more information, visit www.bfi.org.uk