The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Movie 1987)

Lonely5 Kernels

Stars: Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins

Based on a book published in 1955 by Brian Moore, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is a classic in its own right. I watched this buried goodie on Netflix, but I’m not sure it’s still streaming. It’s on Amazon Instant Video for $3.99 and VHS at the whopping price of $79.95! It’s not available on DVD. If you like the brilliance of Maggie Smith and know the pain of being a spinster or even single, this movie is a heart-felt tearjerker. I definitely went through a few Kleenex on this one and ran for more food afterward.First off let me preface this review by saying that Maggie Smith’s performance in this movie was Oscar worthy. Maggie Smith did win the BAFTA Award for Best Actress at least. We all love Maggie for her role in Downton Abbey, but the beauty of this movie is that she is the headline star and the story revolves around Judith Hearne. Maggie does so well portraying the character that you’re frankly mesmerized by her performance as a much younger actress.

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.”

Foyle’s War (2002 to Present)

5 Kernels
Stars: Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell, and Julian Overden

 Type: ITV Series (22 episodes to date)

 You’ll discover a lot about who I am as a person as my reviews continue and what makes me tick. Foyle’s War, believe it or not, is a good example. I don’t always watch the “chick flick” fluff. There are times that I watch the nitty-gritty of life’s realities that are filled with struggle and often heartache.

I think my fascination with this series is due to my background. My father fought in World War II. He was in the Army Corps of Engineers, and though he was stationed in the Pacific, rather than in Europe, I know that World War II had a huge influence upon my parent’s life. My mother kissed her husband goodbye when she was pregnant with my brother, and four years later he returned, thankfully, alive. During those years, my mother worked in a radio factory, and life was tough for everyone. My parent’s generation were people that knew about sacrifice, unlike the younger generation of today, who have no idea about ration cards for food, gas masks, bombs falling upon their heads, blackouts, death, and destruction in their own backyard.

Foyle’s War is an interesting look into war in Britain from the very beginning to the end, and a few series beyond. It’s not only a murder mystery series, it’s a series about how the war affected everyone in England, from the civilian to the soldier, pilot, or sailor.

Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (played by Michael Kitchen) is the main focus. He’s a man of honor, moral absolutes, and integrity, who is faced with not only the war in Britain, but the war against criminals during a time of war. It’s true that hardship can bring out the best in the human race, but it can also bring out the despicable of the human race. Foyle, as you soon learn in the series, is sometimes faced with the question of whether to take the high road in prosecuting the criminal, or turning a blind eye for the sake of the war effort.

From the early onset of the series, the difficulties and heartaches of war are clearly focused upon and not glossed over. The episodes are wonderfully crafted, as well as the interwoven stories of a different kind of war — one of a personal nature where individuals kill a single human not for king and country, but for personal gain, greed, and hatred.

Foyle is the ultimate man with the stiff upper lip mentality. He says very little, you can be assured, unless it’s necessary to say. The remainder of the time he ponders, deducts, and keeps a tight lip on his own emotions, though his facial expressions and body language reveal his every thought. When it’s time to reveal the killer, he pulls no punches and spews out the facts and accusations with clarity and often laced with a tad of sarcasm.

The series also focuses upon his son Andrew (handsomely played by Julian Overden, who just released an album by the way); Samantha Weeks aka Sam, who is Foyle’s driver (played by the cute Honeysuckle Weeks); and his side-kick detective Paul Milner (played by Anthony Howell). Of course, like any other series, there are side plots that involve everyone’s life.

I’m happy to see that Foyle’s War is scheduled to release three more episodes in 2013, which are after-the-war, of course. Foyle at the end of the last episode retires, but I think he has unfinished business to attend to in America.

Though this isn’t your typical female watch, if you like murder mysteries, this series could be for you. I know I absolutely loved it, and it convinces me once again that the British know how to do great television tastefully, even with difficult subjects.

Highly recommended and entertaining series. I so love British TV.

Favorite Line: (Season IV – “Invasion”) The US Army Captain says to Foyle (Paraphrased), “It’s you British that are always murdering each other.”

Greatest Disappointment: Andrew and Sam don’t get married. :sniff:


Angel (2007)

3 Kernels

Stars: Romola Garai, Michael Fassbender, Sam Neill

Type: Movie

This film was recommended to me by a friend, and I found it quite interesting. Set in the Edwardian era in Cheshire, England, it’s a story about a young woman, who dreams of being an author. She comes from a poor background and is the daughter of a widowed grocery shopkeeper. As soon as you meet Angel, you will quickly pick up on her narcissistic tendencies.

Angel wants to be a writer, and is convinced she’s brilliant even before her first book is picked up by a publisher. :inserts laughter here: She writes romance novels, filled with her own fantasies. Of course, she’s an overnight success, which feeds into her need for attention, and Angel quickly learns to bask in the limelight.

Angel writes not only for success, but she writes to rewrite her own painful life by creating a world of her own imagination. As an author having had times of building my own make-believe worlds to shut out the pain of reality, I totally understood the driving force behind Angel Deverell’s need to rewrite her life in order to survive it. Creativity sometimes borders on a type of madness, and I think there has always been some stigma that the greatest of geniuses in any art form are a bit eccentric and unbalanced.

You soon learn, as the movie progresses, that Angel possesses deep emotional problems. She falls in love with the idea of loving a man that she has fantasized about, but when the fantasy becomes reality, it’s her undoing in the end.

Though the beginning is filled with what I call “fluff” of Angel’s rise in popularity as a writer, the unhappiness that eventually catches up to her isn’t a surprise. She loved her husband like the characters in her books loved their heros – blindly and with a tad of selfish and obsessive possessiveness. In addition, the home she dreamed of owning as a child called Paradise, becomes a reality when she makes enough money to purchase the estate. However, she soon learns that Paradise isn’t everything she had hoped for, and her home becomes her personal purgatory instead.

The costumes and indoor settings are stunning, but the cinematography is awful, which distracts from the story and cheapens the film. It’s too bad, frankly, because a bigger budget might have made this film a little more memorable. Fake backgrounds abound, and they are terrible. Romola Garai does a fine job portraying Angel, and I can’t complain about her performance.

All in all, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to my author friends. It’s the tragic drama of an interesting character’s life. Worth the watch if you’re into that sort of storyline.

Below is a trailer, however, it’s not the best of quality.

Bel Ami (2012)

2 Kernels

Stars: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci

Type: Movie


Bel Ami is a fairly new film I recently watched on Amazon Instant Video. It apparently had a very limited release at the same time in June of 2012, and is schedule to go straight to DVD this August. The movie is pretty much a “Rotten Tomato” on a lot of review sites, and frankly I have to concur. It’s based on the 1885 French novel of the same name by Guy de Maupassant, which I have not read.

There are movies that can be visually stimulating, filled with stunning costumes, big-named stars, and yet sorely lack the basic elements to make it memorable. I think Bel Ami suffers two-fold, in that (1) Robert Pattinson doesn’t carry the central character’s role well enough to make it a noteworthy performance, and (2) the story revolves around a very unlikeable character. The two combined makes it a lethal combination. Perhaps if Duroy would have been cast with a different actor, it may have saved the film. I’m sorry to be so harsh on the heart throb Pattinson, but he just didn’t fit the character’s role other than physical looks.

On the other hand, let’s face it, Duroy is not a character you really fall in love with anyway, if you know anything about the story. Oh, yes, he’s attractive, sexy, dreamy-eyed, able to seduce women with a single sly grin and embodies everything you want in bed from a tender lover to a rough aggressive bad boy–take your pick. He has the stamina of a deer in rut bedding two different women in a matter of mere hours.

You learn the following about his character, besides his inability to keep his manhood in check, that he grew up poor, isn’t very bright, and isn’t respected by other men. You quickly learn that he doesn’t possess much of a conscious or a heart, and uses the lives of others for his own gain. Hence the term “scoundrel” or Bel Ami.

The one thing that struck me about the story is that your not privy to the inward thoughts of Duroy or his motivations. You watch his dark brooding, drunken binges, his narrowing gaze, and outbursts of anger and make your own conclusion as to what makes him tick as a man. Besides being a morally loose rake, with no conscience bedding three women at once, he comes across as a relatively ignorant and despised man in his social circle.

Finally, at the end of the movie, you are suddenly given a glimpse into the deep musings and inward workings of his dark heart. It’s here that he reveals it’s not enough to be loved. He doesn’t want to scrape through life, like his father in poverty, while praying for a better life in the next world. There is no next world. We rot in the grave. Better to grab it in the here and now rather than to hope for something that will never come. Of course, as a scoundrel, that’s the only way he knows how to gain what he wants in life. His final conquest is to marry a woman he doesn’t love (and I seriously doubt the man has the capacity to love), so he can live rich at the hand of her father’s money, who he despises. I probably should take lessons from this sod on how to create a despicable male characters in my next book (though some think I did well with the last one).

Well, like millions of Parisians of that day, he probably would have contracted syphilis anyway and died an early death never able to enjoy his gain. Wealth he would have obtained, but respect and status would never arrive, which frankly are the riches the man really wants but doesn’t realize.

The three ladies he beds are all characters of their own sort. His first wife uses him, as he uses her, and is an adulterer from the very beginning (played brilliantly by Uma Thurman). The second woman (played by Christina Ricci), married as well, loves Duroy in spite of the ass that he is and continues to do so after he marries again for money. The older woman (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), who falls for his charms and is married to his nemesis, he seduces just to sully what the man owns. He doesn’t give a damn about her, and discards her like trash when the deed is done by marrying her daughter instead.

In any event, the movie is a mixed bag because of the story and unlovable character you really don’t want to romp in the sack with at all. Of course, you may just want to watch the movie for eye candy sake, but for mentality sake, there won’t be much else to feed the brain cells.

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