Returning home from a shopping trip to a nearby town, bored suburban housewife Laura Jesson is thrown by happenstance into an acquaintance with virtuous doctor Alec Harvey. Their casual friendship soon develops during their weekly visits into something more emotionally fulfilling than either expected, and they must wrestle with the potential havoc their deepening relationship would have on their lives and the lives of those they love.
Celia Johnson's eyes alone should have got an Oscar for this British Casablanca. However, this film deserves at least four stars if only due to its ability to use Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto as its emotional backbone, without sounding toe-curlingly hackneyed. Indeed, indicative of this film navigating around the usual clichés of melodrama is that the cuckolded husband is treated quite sincerely and not portrayed as the obvious sap so common in similar treatments of 'adultery' plots.
The man [Noël Coward] who wrote it with such insight as a play was homosexual, and there is an unfounded rumor that it was intended to be performed by men.
— Kevin Brownlow (Criterion)
I am so here for that remake. Kevin's Criterion essay goes on to say that:
Lean disliked the comedy scenes, but as producer Anthony Havelock-Allan pointed out, Coward was a skillful theater writer who knew that the story would be intolerably sad without them.