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The Cement Garden (1993)

Not Rated | | Drama | 11 February 1994 (USA)
Four children try to hold things together and play a family in their isolated prefab house after the death of their parents. As they begin to deteriorate mentally, they hide their mom's festering corpse in a makeshift concrete sarcophagus.

Director:

Andrew Birkin

Writers:

Andrew Birkin, Ian McEwan (novel)
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2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Andrew Robertson ... Jack
Charlotte Gainsbourg ... Julie
Alice Coulthard ... Sue
Ned Birkin Ned Birkin ... Tom
Sinéad Cusack ... Mother
Hanns Zischler ... Father
Jochen Horst ... Derek, Julie's Friend
Gareth Brown Gareth Brown ... William
William Hootkins ... Commander Hunt (voice)
Dick Flockhart Dick Flockhart ... Truck Driver
Mike Clark Mike Clark ... Driver's Mate
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Storyline

After the death of her husband, the mother of Julie, Jack, Sue and Tom begins to suffer from a mysterious illness. Aware that she is going to have to go into hospital she opens a bank account for the children, so that they can be financially self-sufficient and will be able to avoid being taken into care by the authorities. Unfortunately she also dies and Julie and Jack (the older, teenage children) decide to hide her body in the basement so that they can have free reign of their household. Soon Tom has taken to dressing as a girl whilst Sue has become increasingly reticent, confiding only to her diary, meanwhile Jack and Julie sense an attraction developing for each other. However Julie's new beau, Derek, threatens to unearth the many dark secrets within this family as he becomes increasingly suspicious of Jack. Written by Jagged-11

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Love knows no limits.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although she played a teenager, Charlotte Gainsbourg was 21 years old when this film was shot. Her age is not mentioned in the film, but the character is 17 in the book. Andrew Robertson was 18 playing a 14/15 years old. See more »

Goofs

When the mom is being lifted from the bed to the floor, it's very obvious that it's a dummy in place of the mom. See more »

Quotes

Julie: Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it's OK to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you'd love to know what it's like, wouldn't you? What it feels like for a girl?
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Soundtracks

Hand Gun
Nervous
(Dickie Lorraine & Justin Travis)
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User Reviews

 
Fascinating and surreal drama
14 July 2009 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

The Cement Garden is based on a book by Ian McEwan and follows a group of siblings as they try to cope with the loss of their parents. However, there is much more to this film than merely the basic plot outline; through interesting character design, surreal locations and a gentle stream of shocking happenings; writer-director Andrew Birkin has created a truly unique and fascinating piece of cinema. Of all the films I have seen, I can't think of a single one that is really anything like this one. The film takes place in and around an isolated house surrounded by concrete (presumably on the edge of a town). The house is inhabited by two adults and four children; until the father dies of a heart attack, and the mother's health deteriorates until her eventual death shortly thereafter. This then leaves the four children to fend for themselves. The eldest siblings, Julie and Jack, decide to hide the mother's body in the basement rather than allowing themselves to go into care. The event affects each of the children in different ways.

The Cement Garden is characterised by its setting; a large and morose house stands amidst a landscape made purely of concrete. This location serves the story as it creates isolation and separates the central family from the rest of the population. The film's colour scheme is based on grey and the gloominess of it helps to enforce the melancholy nature of the story. The film features plenty of shocks and breaks many taboos; but everything is presented in such a gentle manner that most of things featured actually seem quite normal, and that in turn makes them even more shocking. The film really is quite daring, and even more so for the fact that the central cast is so young. The dialogue can be quite awkward at times but the actors make the best of it. The film does become more surreal as it moves along, and while the ending of the film is not really a surprise; it still does manage to provide a shock. Overall, The Cement Garden is an excellent adaptation and well worth a look.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

France | Germany | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 February 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cement Garden See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,410, 13 February 1994

Gross USA:

$322,975

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$322,975
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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