As her marriage crumbles, a judge must decide a case involving a teenage boy who is refusing a blood transfusion on religious principle.


Richard Eyre


Ian McEwan (screenplay by), Ian McEwan (based on the novel by)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Stanley Tucci ... Jack Maye
Emma Thompson ... Fiona Maye
Fionn Whitehead ... Adam Henry
Ben Chaplin ... Kevin Henry
Jason Watkins ... Nigel Pauling
Rosie Cavaliero ... Marina Green
Anthony Calf ... Mark Berner
Nikki Amuka-Bird ... Amadia Kalu QC
Rupert Vansittart ... Sherwood Runcie
Nicholas Jones ... Professor Rodney Carter
Eileen Walsh ... Naomi Henry
Chris Wilson ... Barrister
Dominic Carter ... Roger
Hiten Patel ... Lawyer
Andrew Havill ... George


As her marriage to Jack Faye (Stanley Tucci) flounders, eminent High Court judge Fiona Maye (Dame Emma Thompson) has a life-changing decision to make at work - should she force a teenage boy, Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead), to have the blood transfusion that will save his life? Her unorthodox visit to his hospital bedside has a profound impact on them both, stirring strong new emotions in the boy and long-buried feelings in her. Written by Duncan Kenworthy

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


We all make choices. Hers make history.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a sexual reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Despite only including one use of strong language (which is usually acceptable at "PG-13"), this movie holds an "R" rating in the U.S. - likely because of the somewhat sexual context of the line in which that language appears. This is the highest rating this movie has received (requiring that children under 17 have parental accompaniment), with Canada's "14a" coming the closest. See more »


Throughout the film, her clerk and others address Fiona as 'my lady'; in reality they would simply call her 'judge'. 'My Lady' is a term of address used only in court. See more »


Jack Maye: I think I want to have an affair.
See more »


Featured in Front Row Late: Episode #3.6 (2018) See more »


Partita No 2 in C Minor
written by Johann Sebastian Bach
(at the beginning of the film when Fiona Maye Emma Thompson is sitting at the desk in her study)
See more »

User Reviews

Intelligent and well made
4 September 2018 | by andygeSee all my reviews

This is a small but intelligent film that will stay with you for a long time after the final credits. It is well made in all categories and addresses a number of issues that are current and important today including faith vs law, love vs life, youth vs experience. This is probably the best adaption of one of Ian McEwans novels and benefits from a strong and nuanced performance from Emma Thomson who is hardly off the screen for a minute and excellent support from Jason Watkins as her clerk and newcomer Fionn Whitehead. As one of the characters says .. I could see you listening and thinking.. and this is really the crux of the film.What decision you come to in the end may differ... but at least you have the enjoyment of being challenged!

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Release Date:

14 September 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Children Act See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$76,108, 16 September 2018

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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