It's Christmas Eve, and Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro are due for a Brief Encounter on the ever-romantic Metro North in this quiet New York gem.
Dir. Ulu Grosbard (1984)
Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep may be lighting up the multiplexes this holiday season with Everybody's Fine and It's Complicated, respectively, but you can skip the crowds and get your fix of two acting legends falling in love in this gem.
Ulu Grosbard's (a Belgian who also directed De Niro in True Confessions and the Jennifer Jason Leigh film Georgia) forgotten find references such classics as David Lean's Brief Encounter and "the bard of the suburbs," John Cheever, in the story of Frank (De Niro) and Molly (Streep), two married people who bump into each other in front of Rizzoli's bookstore on Christmas Eve, three months after their first meeting on Metro North commuter rail. They continue to meet: riding the same train, arranging a covert lunch... Reuniting the two stars for the first time since The Deer Hunter, the two are both in solid marriages with good people (Jane Kaczmarek and David Clennon), which complicates things, and their friends (Harvey Keitel and Dianne Wiest) aren't any help, mired in their own romantic drama.
A dumber film would have the characters fated for each other, with the spouses as easy villains. Falling in Love is different. It presents the complications of love and the many emotions that come into play, reveling in the rush of infatuation, and the misery of being in a heartbreaking situation. The answers aren't easy, but seeing De Niro (particularly dashing in this film) and Streep together is something both wonderful and bittersweet.
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