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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
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 »
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 »
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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