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The Children Act (2017)

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

Director:

Richard Eyre

Writers:

Ian McEwan (screenplay by), Ian McEwan (based on the novel by)
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Popularity
1,579 ( 89)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Fionn Whitehead ... Adam Henry
Emma Thompson ... Fiona Maye
Stanley Tucci ... Jack Maye
Nikki Amuka-Bird ... Amadia Kalu QC
Ben Chaplin ... Kevin Henry
Jason Watkins ... Nigel Pauling
Rupert Vansittart ... Sherwood Runcie
Rosie Cavaliero ... Marina Green
Anthony Calf ... Mark Berner
Honey Holmes ... Director / Producer (as Angela Holmes)
Stacha Hicks ... Jill
Nicholas Jones ... Professor Rodney Carter
Eileen Walsh ... Naomi Henry
Dominic Carter ... Roger
Andrew Havill ... George
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Storyline

As her marriage to Jack flounders, eminent High Court judge Fiona Maye has a life-changing decision to make at work - should she force a teenage boy, Adam, 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

Taglines:

We all make choices. Hers make history.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a sexual reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 September 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Children Act See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,293, 16 September 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$513,381, 4 November 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Fiona Maye: Life is more precious than dignity.
See more »


Soundtracks

My Funny Valentine
Written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Taken from their musical comedy "Babes in Arms" (1937)
Performed By Emma Thompson on the piano; vocals by Anthony Calf.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
not a courtroom drama
13 September 2018 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. There are some actors who are so talented that they elevate most any material to a watchable status. Emma Thompson is one of the few. She is an Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay (SENSE AND SENSIBILITY) and for Best Actress (HOWARD'S END), and her career is comprised of interesting characters ... many made so because of her performance. The film is directed by Richard Eyre, who has two terrific films in NOTES ON A SCANDAL (2006) and IRIS (2001), and adapted from his own novel by Ian McEwan (ATONEMENT, ON CHESIL BEACH).

We are introduced to British High Court Judge Fiona Maye as she announces her opinion on a case involving conjoined twins. As an expert in family law cases, Judge Maye is respected for fairness and decisiveness. Just as the reality of her crumbling marriage to Jack (Stanley Tucci) hits, she is drawn into yet another case where emotions (and media) are running high. Adam (Fionn Whitehead, DUNKIRK) is in dire need of a blood transfusion, which his Jehovah's Witness religion and parents will not allow.

It's at this point that we believe we are in for a stressful courtroom drama facing religious intricacies. However, there is very little to the court case - only the highly unusual step of the judge visiting the sick minor in the hospital. The highly anticipated moral dilemma never unfolds, and instead we get an oddball friendship, ever-creepier stalking sequence, and emotional unmasking. It's a bit of a letdown. Are we to believe that Judge Fiona Maye is conflicted about anything? She doesn't appear to be. She made up her mind to focus on work, and only seemed to have forgotten to mention this to her husband, whose wants push him towards infidelity.

Jason Watkins has a terrific turn as Nigel, the judge's meticulous assistant who is there in good times and bad. The story could be viewed from a woman's perspective on how the dedication to career comes with a cost, but that same cost would likely be paid by a man in this situation as well. The title of the film is specific to a British law in dealing with aspects of minors, making the court case even less suspenseful than we might think. It's not a courtroom drama per se, and it doesn't dive deep enough to be a look at a dysfunctional marriage, and it's simply too bland to be the study of a workaholic carrying guilt over never having kids - shouldn't this issue have been resolved by now, given the age of this couple? It's a crazy "R" rating over one line of dialogue, and it's really Ms. Thompson's performance that provides the only reason to see the film.


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