Gypsy's Kiss

By Paul Murphy | Drama
An elderly woman goes to her late husband's grave and reasserts her independence.

On the fifth anniversary of her husband Fred's death, a widow named Judith makes her way across her town. Usually accompanied by her son, she makes the trip alone, taking in the sights and sounds around her as she gets across town.

She watches other couples and families as she walks through a street market to buy flowers, and then runs into an old friend, who offers her comfort for her loss. She makes a stop at a restaurant for a bite to eat, where she's recognized by the owner, who was friends with Fred. Then she stops at a church, listening to a homily about marriage. When she finally arrives at Fred's grave, she is finally able to face the feelings she's held onto all this time.

Directed by Paul Murphy from a script by Samuel Jefferson, this beautifully crafted BAFTA-longlisted short drama is a master class in building up mood and atmosphere. Its cinematic elements powerfully frame a narrative about grief and loss -- and then skews that frame to comment on something else entirely.

The story itself is clear and simple: a trip across town to visit a dead husband's grave. It unfurls with a somber, poetic sense of observation from its start. A gentle piano score underlies Judith's humble journey, captured in sensitive camerawork and a naturalistic style that suits Judith's character as a quiet observer.

It's a quiet slice-of-life approach, but full of small moments that Judith watches with great interest. Couples argue, a woman gets catcalled, the restaurant owner berates an employee. She has a few interactions, all of which are solicitous of Judith's grief, which her acquaintances assume is immense.

BAFTA-winning actor Gemma Jones plays Judith with a self-contained, watchful stoicism, evoking an entire life in a performance with little dialogue and outward emotion. At first, it's easy to assume that this exterior hides a reservoir of deep memory and love -- and that Judith is a good, dutiful wife mourning a beloved husband. But the writing cleverly and subtly lays down clues that undercut this picture, as Judith reckons with more complex feelings about her past at the end.

Impeccably acted and quietly absorbing like its main character, "Gypsy's Kiss" constructs its study of bereavement with patience and care. But in its final moments, it up-ends this tone unequivocally, leaving viewers with no doubt about how Judith feels. It's a memorably funny and profane ending, but it also gently poses questions about marriage, tradition and remembrance -- ones that Judith has no doubt come to some conclusions about since her husband's death.

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