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Bleak Moments (1971)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Sylvia meets Peter, a withdrawn schoolteacher, in the street on her way to work. They walk together for a while before going their separate ways. Sylvia goes to the office where she works as a typist with her colleague, Pat.

Sylvia buys a bottle of sherry and goes home to her mentally disabled sister, Hilda, who she cares for. Peter comes round to see Sylvia, bringing a present for Hilda which she knocks to the floor. Peter leaves. Hilda thumps Sylvia.

At the office Pat tells Sylvia she saw a medium at the weekend.

Back at home, Norman, a misfit hippy, comes round with a couple of friends to get the key for Sylvia's garage, which he's hiring to produce a magazine. Sylvia drinks sherry alone.

Hilda is in a workshop at a day-care centre. Later, at home, Sylvia helps Hilda have a bath. They hear music coming through the walls of the garage. Sylvia knocks on the garage door and asks Norman in for coffee and a chat.

Sylvia asks Norman to play the guitar for Hilda. Pat arrives and Norman continues to play the guitar while Pat interrupts with questions and comments. Peter comes round and Sylvia introduces everyone. Hilda won't say hello. They have tea in virtual silence. Pat takes Hilda out to her ill mother's. Peter and Norman are left together and have an awkward conversation while Sylvia drinks sherry alone in another room. Norman returns to the garage. Peter and Sylvia go out for dinner at a virtually empty Chinese restaurant. They take a long time to order their meal and hardly speak.

At her home, Pat's mother talks to Hilda, who is silent. Pat complains about her mother leaving her false teeth in view, upsetting Hilda.. Pat takes Hilda home and puts her to bed. Peter and Sylvia return from their meal out and Pat leaves.

Sylvia and Peter have a stilted conversation over coffee and sherry. Sylvia keeps on filling up Peter's glass. She makes an unsuccessful pass at Peter, who then leaves.

Sylvia knocks on the garage door and asks Norman in for 'a binge' but he's going out to the West End.

At the office, Pat's boss makes conversation but Sylvia and Pat don't respond. Pat tells Sylvia she wants to take Hilda to see a spiritualist but Sylvia doesn't want her to go.

Peter is in the school staff room. Another teacher discusses her ideas for next term's humour project. Peter doesn't think children have a sense of humour.

Hilda sings along with Norman to his guitar in the garage.

Sylvia and Hilda run into Peter outside the library and exchange a few awkward pleasantries. Sylvia and Hilda return home to find that Norman is moving out of the garage. Hilda starts playing the piano. Pat comes round, says that her mum is not getting any better and then bursts into tears. Sylvia doesn't say anything or react. Pat asks if Hilda would like to go the pictures and they both leave.

Sylvia bangs a few notes on the piano.