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Detainment (2018)

1:06 | Trailer
Two ten year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case, which shocked the world in 1993.


Vincent Lambe


Vincent Lambe
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 27 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ely Solan ... Jon
Leon Hughes Leon Hughes ... Robert
Will O'Connell ... Detective Dale
David Ryan ... Detective Scott
Tara Breathnach Tara Breathnach ... Susan Venables
Morgan C. Jones ... Detective Roberts
Brian Fortune ... Detective Jacobs
Kathy Monahan ... Ann Thompson
Killian Sheridan Killian Sheridan ... Neil Venables
Martin Phillips Martin Phillips ... Jon's Solicitor
Caleb Mason Caleb Mason ... James
Barbara Adair Barbara Adair ... Mrs. Garrity
Julie Lockey Julie Lockey ... Mrs. Johnson
Helen Roche Helen Roche ... Mrs. Wilson
Tom Pigot Tom Pigot ... Robert's Solicitor
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Two ten year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case, which shocked the world in 1993.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Crime | Drama



Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


After being nominated for an Oscar, this film was condemned by the parents of James Bulger for humanizing the murderers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. See more »


Featured in The Oscars (2019) See more »

User Reviews

Deeply uncomfortable, but undeniably powerful and well made
22 May 2019 | by davideo-2See all my reviews

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

In February 1993, the body of two year old James Bulger was found on a railway line in Walton, Merseyside. Shortly after, two ten year old boys Robert Thompson (Leon Hughes) and Jon Venables (Ely Solan) were arrested and taken for questioning. This film is a re-enactment of the actual police interview, taken directly from transcripts. Whilst Thompson cracks under the pressure, Venables maintains a steely, hardened persona.

Last year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the murder of James Bulger by two ten year old boys, a crime that still strikes a massive blow on the cultural consciousness whenever it is resurrected on TV or in the media. And so this controversial Northern Ireland short production was produced, not apparently to cream off any publicity from the milestone. A further uncomfortable truth is the condemnation from the mother of the murdered boy, who has voiced her disapproval of the production (and was apparently not consulted!)

In thirty short minutes, director Vincent Lambe has to cram as much affecting material as he can into his production. And so, while we open with deceptively easy going shots of the boys larking about in the shopping centre, we are quickly plunged into the uncomfortable central setup of the interview room, where it all comes out. Hughes, as Thompson, is particularly upsetting, as the child assaulted with the full gravity of what he's done, reacting with an emotional wildness that is very unsettling. Equally so is the flashback sequences of the boys leading James to his doom, where just the image of the innocent little boy and his gradual breakdown is enough to churn your gut.

It's hard to think of many other cases where something so short leaves such a devastating impression, but this is definitely one case. In the throes of their performances, the child actors sometimes lapse back into their Northern Irish accents, losing their Liverpudlian dialect, but in being so integral to something so powerful and emotionally devastating, this is a very minor flaw that can be forgiven. Not an easy watch, or even something you'd want to see again, but still undeniably shattering. ****

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Official Sites:

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Ireland | UK



Release Date:

8 February 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Detainment See more »

Filming Locations:

Dublin, Ireland See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twelve Media See more »
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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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