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.