A penniless middle-aged spinster scrapes by giving piano lessons in the Dublin of the 1950s. She makes a sad last bid for love with a fellow resident of her rundown boarding house, who imagines she has the money to bankroll the business he hopes to open.
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is a 1987 drama film made by HandMade Films Ltd. and United British Artists (UBA) starring Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins. It was directed by Jack Clayton (his final theatrical film) and produced by Richard Johnson and Peter Nelson, with George Harrison and Denis O’Brien as executive producers. The music score was by Georges Delerue and the cinematography by Peter Hannan.
The screenplay was by Peter Nelson from the novel Judith Hearne by Northern Irish-Canadian writer Brian Moore. The story presents “a character study film about a woman’s rage against the Church for her wasted life”. Moore wrote the novel after leaving Ireland, in part because of the religious conflict there, and was living in Canada.
The book was published in 1955 and was optioned for the stage and screen almost immediately. John Huston optioned it for a film with Katharine Hepburn. Director Irvin Kershner planned on casting Deborah Kerr. Eventually, Jack Clayton, a Catholic himself, was chosen to direct.
The cast also features Wendy Hiller, Marie Kean, Ian McNeice, Alan Devlin, Prunella Scales, Sheila Reid, and Aidan Gillen in his first film appearance. The novel is set in Belfast, but filming took place in Dublin.
Maggie Smith won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress. She also won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress (tied with Billie Whitelaw for The Dressmaker). Bob Hoskins won the Best Actor award (also for Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987)
Directed by: Jack Clayton
Starring: Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, Wendy Hiller, Marie Kean, Ian McNeice, Alan Devlin, Rudi Davies, Prunella Scales, Aine Ni Mhuiri, Sheila Reid, Kate Binchy, Martina Stanley
Screenplay by: Peter Nelson
Production Design by: Michael Pickwoad
Cinematography by: Peter Hannan
Film Editing by: Terry Rawlings
Costume Design by: Elizabeth Waller
Set Decoration by: Josie MacAvin
Art Direction by: Henry Harris
Music by: Georges Delerue
Distributed by: Island Pictures
Release Date: December 23, 1987