Alice (49) is free to leave. The cop gently reminds her to take her bag, an envelope within it. He offers a support number, but she just wants to go home now. On the bus, a hostile stranger snaps a furtive photo. She panics. Gets off early. Anxious, she buys cigarettes, but the newspaper headlines turn her pale. At her estate, paparazzi swarm like wasps, so she flees to another flat. But when she knocks, a bitter voice: ‘Got your pieces of silver, mum?” Alice swears she did nothing. Inside, her son snaps off the TV tribute, accusing her of crocodile tears and giving the paparazzi his sister’s whereabouts. Alice protests: it wasn’t her, not this time. But he doesn’t believe her. Desperate, Alice raids the bathroom for pills, shoves them into her mouth. Her son is remarkably unsympathetic, impatient. “Get offa me,” she bites. “I’m going, if that’s what you want.” Fine. Now at a cashier, Alice caresses a cashmere coat. She takes cash from the envelope. Blood money. Suddenly repulsed. Outside, she offers a tenner to a teenager. He refuses, but soon a crowd forms. Some don’t take advantage, others push through greedily. Finally, Alice’s face, alone among the crowd.
The adaptation focuses on Judas in the days after the betrayal. It follows his journey to remorse and his vain attempt to return his thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3-27:6). Taking the character as an enduringly human portrait of anguish, guilt and desperation, it transposes Jerusalem to contemporary London. So Judas becomes Alice — who hides from the public eye the morning after her famous daughter’s overdose. As Judas received silver for informing on Jesus, so Alice sold her daughter’s address to the paparazzi, whose incessant hounding contributed to her death. Where Judas was quickly abandoned by the chief priests (27:4), so the tabloids immediately re-cast Alice as a villain who exploited her daughter. As Judas cast down his coins, so Alice eventually gives away her blood money on the street. But more than this, the film explores complex questions raised in the biblical source: Why do we take comfort in the moral failures of strangers — to feel better about ourselves? Was Judas an expedient scapegoat to absolve a political culture? (In Alice’s case, the tabloids pay for sordid photos because people will buy the paper.) And, crucially — is there a limit to our forgiveness?