Review: ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne’

An ensemble of sterling performances highlights The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, an intelligent, carefully crafted adaptation of Brian Moore's well-regarded first novel. Film's centerpiece is Maggie Smith's exceptionally detailed portrait of the title character, a middle-aged Irish spinster who tragically deludes herself into imagining herself involved in a great romance.

An ensemble of sterling performances highlights The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, an intelligent, carefully crafted adaptation of Brian Moore’s well-regarded first novel. Film’s centerpiece is Maggie Smith’s exceptionally detailed portrait of the title character, a middle-aged Irish spinster who tragically deludes herself into imagining herself involved in a great romance.

Judith is a fragile bird, a part-time piano teacher in 1950s Dublin who has every reason to be desperate about life but still manages to look on the bright side. Moving into a new boarding house, she takes a liking to her landlady’s brother James (Bob Hoskins), a widower recently returned from 30 years in New York, and begins stepping out with him.

Once James takes her to a fancy dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel, Judith is sure his intentions are serious. Unfortunately, she allows a misunderstanding between them to assume traumatic proportions, and her heartbreak and disappointment lead her down a spiraling road of despair, alcoholism, ostracism and religious rejection.

Hoskins, laying a brash New York accent over a hint of the Irish, brings great energy and creative bluster to the irrepressible dreamer who has been instilled with Yankee get-up-and-go.

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne

UK

Production

HandMade/United British Artists. Director Jack Clayton; Producer Peter Nelson, Richard Johnson; Screenplay Peter Nelson; Camera Peter Hannan; Editor Terry Rawlings; Music Georges Delerue; Art Director Michael Pickwoad

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 110 MIN.

With

Maggie Smith Bob Hoskins Wendy Hiller Marie Kean Ian McNeice Prunella Scales
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