I Know Where I'm Going! ★★★★

A charming, touching, stupendously photographed, partially comic romance completely unlike the films for which its writer-directors, Powell & Pressburger, are best known, but with the same oversized emotions and sheer awe at the possibilities of life and cinema; restrained but warm, literate but universal, it's the movie that folks claim Brief Encounter to be. Wendy Hiller stars as a self-possessed, headstrong twentysomething determined to get a position for herself in the commercial world through a convenient marriage to a much older (and richer) man. While she's stranded in the Scottish Hebrides due to bad weather, she finds cracks forming in her long-decided destiny, both because of the lust she feels for a rather jolly naval officer and the larger, stranger, less proper world she discovers surrounding him. The film's ultimately a valentine to Scotland sent by a film camera; its perception of the land's folk traditions is obviously idealized but also unmistakably deeply felt, and its effect -- with traces of the sinister and the surreal -- is overwhelmingly lovely, building perfectly to a heartrending, poetic, beautifully ironic closing sequence.

Points as well for the extraordinary opening titles, which upend tradition magnificently and serve to indicate that even when telling a fairly straightforward story, the Archers have no interest in boring you with something you've seen before.