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.
BBC Radio 4 produced a radio drama adaptation directed by Michael Quinn in 1995.
Maggie Smith as Judith Hearne
Bob Hoskins as James Madden
Wendy Hiller as Aunt D'Arcy
Ian McNeice as Bernard Rice
Marie Kean as Mrs. Rice
Prunella Scales as Moira O'Neill
Peter Gilmore as Kevin O'Neill
Aine Ni Mhuiri as Edie Marinan
Pauline Kael wrote: "Clayton is a felicitous choice to direct a character study film about a woman's rage against the Church for her wasted life. His first feature was Room at the Top with Simone Signoret and he made The Innocents with Deborah Kerr and The Pumpkin Eater with Anne Bancroft - he knows how to show women's temperatures and their mind-body inter-actions. Maggie Smith becomes the essence of spinster - she makes you feel the ghastliness of knowing you're a figure of fun." Janet Maslin, writing in the New York Times called the film "ponderous" and "literal" and thought the novel far superior to the film's "awkward" screenplay. She praised much of the acting, but thought Bob Hoskins was "paralyzed by the crude Americanism of his character".
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)