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Anna Taylor
Finbar Lynch ...
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Michelle
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Jill
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Steve
Elliott Rosen ...
Richard
Francesca Ryan ...
Family Planning Counsellor
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Drama

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7 August 2007 (UK)  »

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Neither drama nor debate aspects really work that well or sit comfortably alongside one another
4 December 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This story is fictional but it is based on real cases. Anna is a woman in her twenties but has a mental age of 5. Richard is her "boyfriend" who is older but also has learning difficulties. The day care community centre and her mother both struggle to keep her away from Richard – her mother in particularly feeling that the relationship is inappropriate. Whenever Anna turns out to be pregnant, her mother takes action to get rid of the baby and her father decides that sterilisation is the only way forward, even though it means gaining approval from a court.

A disappointing film this one. It takes the approach of some recent reality dramas by mixing actors with real people and then using real people (well, a judge) to decide the outcome rather than the writers. This structure is always a bit risky and in similar films success has almost come despite the method rather than because of it. Here the film cannot manage to overcome the approach as is rather dragged down by it. The majority of the film is setting up the characters and mostly it doesn't really hook as it should because it feels very specific and a little melodramatic considering that it was put forward as a serious look at a complex issue.

The melodrama of the situation did prevent me really engaging with the bigger questions and, when the courtroom stuff did come, I didn't think that my brain was really working with it. Personally I do think that it would have been better with this to have had the "experts" commenting from the outside rather than being part of the drama. Not only would this have driven the "complex questions" aspect in favour of the drama but it would also have helped the actors. The professionals are mixed anyway but you can see the "real people" in the drama whether they are doctors, lawyers, community centre managers or judges. At best they deliver their lines in an unconvincing and overly stiff way, at worst it is like someone has dropped a block of wood onto the set. Even at best they don't interact at all well with the actors and the shared scenes mostly fall flat. Of the professionals both Hale and Rosen are quite impressive but the actors playing the mother and the father are both quite unconvincing – perhaps because they are having to interact with people who are very unnatural.

Overall then a mostly so-so film. The dramatic parts are mixed but mostly fall flat, while the inability to force wider questions onto the viewer means the courtroom scenes are surprisingly uninteresting.


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