Judith is a middle-aged spinster. The setting is Dublin, Ireland. She teaches piano, and she occasionally goes on drinking binges when life becomes too hard to handle. (It’s not much different than our single binges of overeating and other destructive tendencies we partake in to kill emotional pain of loneliness.) Judith moves into another boarding house in search of a new beginning. She brings her suitcase, her framed picture of Jesus for the wall, and promises God things will be better.
Life in the boarding house is not exactly what I’d term the best place to make a new beginning. Its boarders are an eclectic mixture of nutcases from the owner to the residents. It’s here that Maggie meets the brother of the owner, who happens to be an American, played by Bob Hoskins.
James Madden, Judith’s new potential interest, isn’t the man of character that she thinks him to be. They start to spend time together, and Judith begins to falsely believe that he’s interested in her as a potential wife, when in reality all he wants is her money, of which she has very little. The realization that he’s really not interested, sends Judith spiraling downward into depression and gin bottles.
Poor Judith is a woman ridiculed and alone. She compensates for her less than happy life by telling little white lies to make her life sound better. When she finally breaks, a scene ensues where she goes to church and loses it completely. It’s the most powerful cry of the human soul I’ve seen in quite some time, as the good and faithful Catholic Judith runs to the altar, rips back curtain of the Tabernacle, and screams at God, “Are you really in there? Did you hear me?”
I think this movie moved me on a personal level because of my own life of being alone for 13 years and unanswered prayers for a mate. The climatic scene in the church is so well played by Maggie Smith and so heart wrenching, it’s hard to put into words. In any event, the movie is well worth the wonderful performance. It’s an oldie, but goodie, that deserves to be resurrected.
Memorable Lines: (Judith)”Mr. Madden, I usually go the 11 o’clock mass on Sunday. Do you have a usual time?” (Madden) “Time doesn’t matter, you just gotta get through it.”