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The Children Act
11 February: 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm£4 – £6
2017 – Certificate 12A
– The Children Act –
Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is an eminent judge in the Family Division of the High Court, making daily decisions about complex family issues. But her workload is heavy and her marriage to American professor Jack (Stanley Tucci) is at breaking point.
In this moment of personal crisis, Fiona is asked to rule in the case of Adam (Fionn Whitehead), a brilliant and beautiful teenager who is refusing on religious grounds the blood transfusion which will save his life.
Wanting to hear from Adam before making a decision, Fiona goes to his hospital bedside. This extraordinary meeting releases strong emotions, with momentous consequences for both of them as Fiona decides whether Adam should live or die.
Running Time 105 mins
Ratings Info Cert 12A
Director Richard Eyre
Cast includes Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead, Ben Chaplin, Eileen Walsh, Anthony Calf, Rupert Vansittart, Jason Watkins
Nominations & Awards 2 wins from 6 nominations
Thompson’s performance as a brilliant but tortured judge elevates the Ian McEwan adaptation of his 2014 novel … a stately courtroom saga with parallels to the Charlie Gard case………. Directed by Richard Eyre ……. this is bracingly intelligent and civilised, with very good actors directed with clarity and care. There is at all times an elegant exposition of detail.
It is a highly watchable drama of the highly educated public-servant class – it would make a good stage-play – and the film is put together with an intelligence which saves it from being preposterous, although that’s a bit of a close thing. There’s a shrewd eye here for the pageantry and complacency of the English law.
Despite its literary origins, The Children Act feels somewhat stage-bound: adapted by McEwan himself, it is a showcase for strong performances, especially by Emma Thompson and Fionn Whitehead, and long dialogue scenes chewing over meaty issues (morality versus law)
As a filmmaker, Richard Eyre is restrained and empathetic, and the competing arguments are complex but compelling.
If it lacks filmmaking fireworks and emotional wallop, The Children Act delivers a sensitive, thoughtful drama about complicated issues. And it is another reminder, if one were needed, of the subtlety and skill of Emma Thompson’s stratospheric talent
Graceful dramas for adults are a scarcity these days. But thanks in part to a reliable supply of Ian McEwan adaptations, we are luckily treated to some refreshingly grown-up material featuring complex humans at life-defining crossroads, forced to make choices that directly clash with the set of beliefs they had thus far lived by. Sophisticated and challenging, The Children Act continues this trend for filmgoers who would like to flex their intellectual muscles and engage with serious themes.
It is perhaps a bit stilted in the overt way it sometimes attempts to spell out its arguments. But still poses sophisticated questions around family, religion, marriage, law and the delicate boundaries that can or cannot be crossed in each institution.
As mature as movies get, the elegantly costumed and designed The Children Act is a welcome getaway from ……..loud fare, into something quiet and tasteful that aims for the aging soul.
Emma Thompson is tremendous in Ian McEwan’s implausible legal drama.
The film is carried through a lot of this [implausibility ] by the sheer quality and watchability of Thompson’s performance . And Eyre and his team convincingly bring to life the story’s very particular legal-world milieu, from the orderly ambience of Fiona’s apartment and chambers ….. to Jason Watkins’s terrific supporting performance as Fiona’s fastidious clerk.
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