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MOVIE REVIEW: THE CHILDREN ACT (as part of the Mini British Film Festival)

| 2 November 2018 | Reply

MOVIE REVIEW: THE CHILDREN ACT (as part of the Mini British Film Festival)
Written by Ian McEwan
Directed by Richard Eyre
Starring Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Ffion Whitehead, Ben Chaplin
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8 ½ /10

Against a backdrop of a dysfunctional marriage coming off the rails, The Children Act is a film of two halves. The first half follows Judge Fiona Maye (a wonderfully committed, nuanced Emma Thompson) as she has to give a ruling whether a hospital can force teenage Leukaemia patient Adam (Ffion Whitehead) to undergo a life-saving blood transfusion, despite his and his parent’s refusal as Jehovah Witnesses.

Normally the paragon of cool, detached reason, Maye’s composure is shaken when husband Jack (the always excellent Stanley Tucci) suggests he have an affair. Refusing to talk to her husband about the lack of affection and physical contact within their marriage, she finds herself relaxing more than she otherwise would have around Adam, which causes much confusion in the young fella.

The Children Act is, really, a character study of obsessions. Judge May is obsessed by her work, to the exclusion of her husband. A montage showing them in happier times shows that it wasn’t always that way. He is consumed by her lack of affection and physical contact and tries to talk their problems through to no avail before suggesting he has an affair whilst remaining in the marriage. Adam’s obsession is equally simple: Now free of the burden of an irrational religion, Adam leads us into the second half of the film as he obsesses about the judge – effectively his lifesaver.

The way Judge Maye and Adam – separated by decades and a chasm of life experience, yet more in common than either realises – affect each other’s lives is profound.

Every main character has a purpose and normal, human needs which they approach with normal, human selfishness. It’s testament to the writer, director and stars that they can raise so many intriguing questions about law, religion and relationships and not feel the need (or arrogance) to answer them all.

An exquisite classical soundtrack and superb performances from the principals only add to the enthralling and somewhat elegant, intelligent story.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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