7.2/10
4,012
29 user 23 critic

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)
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Géminis (2005)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A domineering mother with a seemingly perfect family in Argentina, is unaware of a taboo relationship happening with her youngest twin children.

Director: Albertina Carri
Stars: Cristina Banegas, Daniel Fanego, Maria Abadi
Close My Eyes (1991)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

After some years of tension, Richard begins a sexual relationship with his sister Natalie, who is now married. The relationship between Richard and Natalie proves dangerously obsessional. ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Poliakoff
Stars: Alan Rickman, Clive Owen, Saskia Reeves
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A writer, Ned Kendall, is asked to return to the family home by his sister Sally, to say goodbye to his father who is dying. The family home is in a very remote and isolated area. While ... See full summary »

Director: Rachel Ward
Stars: Ben Mendelsohn, Sophie Lowe, Maeve Dermody
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Daniel and Ana, brother and sister, best friends. Both are at pivotal, defining moments in their contented lives. Ana is about to be married, Daniel is a gregarious teenager discovering his... See full summary »

Director: Michel Franco
Stars: Dario Yazbek Bernal, Marimar Vega, José María Torre
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Guilherme and Sofia, brother and sister, grow up sharing experiences and slowly discovering their sexuality. The thing that Sofia doesn't know is how far Guilherme will go to keep her inside his own perverse, dark and perfect circle.

Director: Marco Martins
Stars: Rafael Morais, Joana de Verona, Daniel Duval
Zusje (1995)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After several years without contact, Martijn visits his sister Daantje, who just started to live on her own in Amsterdam. He tells her he is going to make a documentary from her life, and ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Jan Westdijk
Stars: Kim van Kooten, Romijn Conen, Hugo Metsers
Bez wstydu (2012)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

After returning home, Tadek discovers Anna has had an affair with a married man.

Director: Filip Marczewski
Stars: Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Agnieszka Grochowska, Anna Próchniak
Ma mère (2004)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

When his father dies, a young man is introduced by his attractive, amoral mother to a world of hedonism and depravity.

Director: Christophe Honoré
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Louis Garrel, Emma de Caunes
L'effrontée (1985)
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Charlotte (Gainsbourg) is being raised without a mother. She is only 13 but ready to be an adult. She meets an older boy and begins a relationship while teaching a young friend about life and learning the ropes herself.

Director: Claude Miller
Stars: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Clothilde Baudon, Julie Glenn
Luna (1979)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

While touring in Italy, a recently-widowed American opera singer has an incestuous relationship with her 15-year-old son to help him overcome his heroin addiction.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Jill Clayburgh, Matthew Barry, Veronica Lazar
Edit

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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

France | Germany | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 February 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A cementkert See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$322,975
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Ian Holm has an uncredited voice role. He dubbed the voice of the father, played by German actor Hanns Zischler. See more »

Goofs

When Jack brings in the tray to his mum, when she's in her room, he draws back the curtains to let some light in. However, the light obviously comes not from outside, but from a source of light somewhere above (not visible). See more »

Quotes

Commander Hunt: There is nothing ugly, I never saw an ugly thing in my life, for let the shape of an object be as they may: light, shade and perspective will always make it beautiful.
See more »


Soundtracks

Broken T.V.
Future Primitive
(Gavin Rossdale)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
It's a family affair
12 November 1999 | by Dennis LittrellSee all my reviews

There's an almost heroic honesty to this urbanized, co-ed "Lord of the Flies"-ish love story. A square stone house serves as the isolated island while the jungle is the familiar setting of urban sprawl and other people. Director Andrew Birkin, in adapting Ian McEwan's novel (The Comfort of Strangers) to the screen, doesn't try to shock us. He just ignores our prejudices and lets fall away our preconceptions. What emerges is a sense of liberation from the usual hypocrisy.

The love story is an acting out of sister-brother incest, almost a celebration of it. "Seems natural to me" is what fifteen-year-old Jack (Andrew Robertson) says while in the naked embrace of his older sister Julie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). I could almost buy it, but I know of the "kibbutz effect" in which it was found that unrelated children growing up together virtually never married one another. If sister and brother grow up separately there can be sexual excitement between them, but if they grow up in the same household they tend to find each other sexually boring. Family members usually work out the sexual tension through play at an early age so that by the time they are sexually mature, they are looking elsewhere. That's how the incest taboo works. Its purpose is to channel the sexual drive outward, the better to mix the gene pool. For the individual, incest is not an attractive option socially or economically because it is so much better to increase one's family and influence by joining with someone from another tribe or band. If you marry your sister, you don't gain any brothers. Consequently the average person recoils at the mere suggestion of incest, and it is this mindless, knee jerk reaction that this film attacks.

Consider isolated families in the pre-history. What other reproductive choice would they have? Certainly it is better to reproduce in the hope that the next generation might find partners. This evolutionary wisdom is what is captured here. The sexual drive is seen as stronger than society's ephemeral prejudices, and rightly so since our genes must survive even when the society is stupid and self-destructive in its mores.

Birkin's direction lacks focus in the beginning and the editing seems brilliant and disjointed by turns, but Birkin eschews even the hint of a cliché and ends up with a slightly flawed, but engrossing, strikingly original work of cinematic art.

I'm disappointed that the sound track did not include the seventies Motown tune, "It's a Family Affair."

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)


24 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 29 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed