Rent The Children Act (2017)

3.3 of 5 from 290 ratings
1h 40min
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Synopsis:
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 on 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 her decision, Fiona goes to his hospital bedside.
Their extraordinary meeting releases strong emotions, with momentous consequences for both of them as Fiona decides whether Adam should live or die.
Actors:
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Directors:
Producers:
Duncan Kenworthy
Writers:
Ian McEwan
Studio:
EntertainmentOne
Genres:
British Films, Drama
Countries:
UK
BBFC:
Release Date:
21/01/2019
Run Time:
100 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Colour:
Colour
Languages:
English, English Audio Description
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Bonus:
  • Interviews with Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead, Richard Eyre, Ian McEwan, Duncan Kenworthy, Peter Francis and Sir Alan Ward
BBFC:
Release Date:
21/01/2019
Run Time:
105 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Colour:
Colour
Languages:
English, English Audio Description
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Bonus:
  • Interviews with Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead, Richard Eyre, Ian McEwan, Duncan Kenworthy, Peter Francis and Sir Alan Ward

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Reviews (7) of The Children Act

Easily forgotten - The Children Act review by BE

In spite of Emma Thompson acting her heart out, this movie never quite hits the spot. Although carefully crafted, bit of a weird storyline. Also too much of walking up and down corridors with doors opening and shutting throughout.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

A film that doesn’t fit together- Emma Thompson wasted in this - The Children Act review by RC

The plot sounds quite moving on paper but isn’t executed very well. Aside from the main theme there is too much indulgent piano playing that non musicians will be bored by.

Annoying scenes towards the end where Emma Thompson needlessly walks home in the rain late at night despite being an absolute millionaire and constantly being in taxis the rest of the film. She arrives home with her wet hair all over her face and doesn’t brush it out of her face. So annoying. Nobody would do this In real life.

Far too many shots of central London which makes it feel like it’s a film made for Americans.

Inconsistency with the husband - or possibly over my head what was going on here.

Very disappointing. Did not get emotional watching this despite the subject matter. Relieved when it finished.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Emma saves a 3 - The Children Act review by NC

Have to give it a 3 as Emma does her job throughout. Not everybody quite up to same level. Makes odd points along the way, but bit meandering. Almost one of the loosely-based-on-fact films the US is in love with. Think writers have just run out of ideas?

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

The Children Act review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

I can’t imagine being a judge on the most controversial of cases is an easy job. The very weight of human life rests on your shoulders in some instances. In the latest case, English High Court Judge Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is shaken. A 17-year-old boy, Adam (Fionn Whitehead), has leukemia but his parents refuse to let the hospital give him blood transfusions as it clashes with their religious beliefs. That’s a doozy of a courtroom battle and it’s all the more complicated with her troubled relationship with her husband (Stanley Tucci).

Fiona’s home life is a mess. Her husband is pompous enough to announce his marital affair more as though it were a business proposal. Watching her marriage crumble is draining enough but made all the more heartbreaking by their arguments and their small cousins coming to visit. Dealing with divorce turns out to be a troubling ordeal for her that exhausts her physically and emotionally.

The one person who seems to find the most comfort in her is Adam, won over by her pity and insistence on speaking with him in the hospital. They connect well. Perhaps too well. Realizing Fiona is the only woman who truly gets him where his parents let him down, he gravitates to close to her, trying desperately to bring this woman into his life. Fiona pushes him away but regretfully as she knows their relationship is one that is founded not on legal binding or religious belief but through genuine human nature.

This is the type of story that becomes very flimsy to hold up past melodrama. The courtroom drama of questioning religious decisions that could kill a kid is treated far more routinely than it should be. While the connection between Adam and Fiona is the highlight of the film, its diced far too much apart from the rest of the picture as it takes too much time for Fiona arguing with her ex-husband and feeling distant at parties where she’s expected to play the piano. This staging gives the film more of an appearance relating to a very special episode of a courtroom drama where dealing with Adam is just one of many cases and not as earthshaking in her day-to-day struggles of law and love.

But let’s be fair. Emma Thompson doesn’t slouch on the job and brings the right gravitas and humanity to this role that requires to be exceptionally emotional. Tucci is always a great choice as the snobby elite, given how full of himself he came off in his other affair drama, Submission. And though Fionn Whitehead is reduced to fairly small scenes, he makes the best of what little he has to work with, as will the entire cast.

There comes a point in The Children Act where I stopped caring about whether or not Adam would live or if Fiona would ever find true happiness. The performances are the real strength of carrying this rickety film from being more unique to watch than tiresome to track in its formula. And for that I can really only recommend the film as another testament to Thompson and Tucci’s commitment to any material, weak as it may be, and give it the best coat of dignity their acting can serve up.

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