Director Jack Clayton’s 1987 best of British drama provides lovely showcase for impeccable, tour-de-force acting from Maggie Smith as Judith Hearne. Smith won the 1989 BAFTA Film Award for Best Actress.
Judith Hearne is the lonely, penniless middle-aged Irish spinster piano teacher whose meagre, pathetic existence goes from bad to terrible when she checks in at Mrs Rice (Marie Kean)’s new rooming house and falls for the landlady’s widowed brother, sweet-talking charmer James Madden (Bob Hoskins), kidding herself that he loves he back.
The latter’s dynamic performance is nearly the equal of Smith’s and there is impressive support from Prunella Scales and Wendy Hiller as Moira O’Neill and Aunt D’Arcy. Also in the very good cast are Ian McNeice, Alan Devlin, Rudi Davies, Sheila Reid, Veronica Quilligan, Niall Buggy, Kate Binchy, Martina Stanley, Frank Egerton and Aine Ni Mhuiri.
Written by Peter Nelson and based on Brian Moore’s novel, it is a high-quality despairing wallow.
It was the last film produced by Peter Nelson and also the last as a full producer for actor Richard Johnson.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 5150
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