The Children Act (Parent And Baby Screening) (12A)
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Starring: Emma Thompson, Fionn Whitehead, Stanley Tucci
Director: Richard Eyre
Writer(s): Ian McEwan
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland
The Honorable Mrs Justice Maye tranquilises her emotions when she presides over cases at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. She is called away from an argument with her husband Jack to deal with the urgent case of 17-year-old leukaemia patient Adam Henry. The boy and his parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and it is contrary to their faith to accept blood. Without a transfusion, Adam will die and senior staff at the hospital are concerned that Adam is being influenced by his parents.
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LondonNet Film Review
The Children Act (12A)
Dame Emma Thompson delivers one of the most beautifully calibrated, heartrending performances of her career in The Children Act, adapted for the screen by Ian McEwan from his 2014 novel. Donning the robes of a judge, who tranquilises her emotions when she presides over cases at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the two-time Oscar winner elegantly reveals chinks in her character's burnished armour. Despite her best efforts at cool detachment, guilt and regret eventually spill over as one deliberation reaches its summation. "This is a court of law, not of morals," the judge sombrely informs two sides of a high-profile argument about whether conjoined twins should be separated and condemn one sibling to death. For the opening hour, Richard Eyre's courtroom drama is a riveting character study. Thompson wrestles with life-or-death decisions with a stoicism and haunting solitude that comes at the expense of personal relationships. Once a contentious central case is closed and the judge faces the ramifications of her carefully weighted words, the film unravels in a concluding act devoid of emotional heft. It's a muddled, unsatisfying resolution to an artfully composed study that promises so much...
The Honorable Mrs Justice Maye (Thompson) is a slave to the law. Her heavy workload leaves scant time for husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) and he shocks his wife by confessing his intention to have an affair. Unable to respond, Fiona is called away to deal with the urgent case of 17-year-old leukaemia patient Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead). The boy and his parents (Ben Chaplin, Eileen Walsh) are Jehovah's Witnesses and it is contrary to their faith to accept blood. Without a transfusion, Adam will die and senior staff at the hospital are concerned that Adam is being influenced by his parents.
Since the patient is a few weeks shy of his 18th birthday, Fiona wields the power to force him to accept the blood that could save his life. Mark Berner QC (Anthony Calf) leads the case for a transfusion and Fiona visits Adam in hospital to assess his state of mind. Aided by her fastidious clerk Nigel (Jason Watkins), Fiona must deliver her ruling while attempting to resuscitate her marriage.
The Children Act is a handsome showcase for Thompson and she never disappoints, even when the human drama around her feels contrived. Rising star Whitehead, who dodged bullets in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, lingers in the memory, more so than Tucci's neglected spouse, who is starved of screen time to truly convince us that he demands our sympathy. Eyre directs at a pedestrian pace, allowing us sufficient time to chew on moral conundrums and come to our own conclusions. My verdict is that his intelligent, sensitively handled film fails to achieve its full potential.
- Sam Cannon
To Thursday 20th September
- Odeon Beckenham
- Odeon Luxe Putney
- Odeon South Woodford
- Odeon Uxbridge
- Odeon Wimbledon
To Thursday 27th September
Not showing at any
London cinemas this week.
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Listed in alphabetical order by city/place name followed by cinema name.
To Thursday 20th September
- Aylesbury, Odeon Aylesbury
- Basingstoke, Odeon Basingstoke
- Blackpool, Odeon Blackpool
- Boston, Savoy Cinema
- Bournemouth, Odeon Bournemouth BH2
- Bridgend, Odeon Bridgend
- Bromborough, Odeon Bromborough
- Cardiff, Odeon Cardiff
- Colchester, Odeon Colchester
- Edinburgh, Odeon Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird
- Glasgow, Odeon Glasgow Springfield Quay
- Guildford, Odeon Guildford
- Harrogate, Odeon Harrogate
- Milton Keynes, Odeon Milton Keynes Stadium
- Newbury, Corn Exchange
- Renfrew, Odeon Braehead
- Rochdale, Odeon Rochdale
- Southampton, Odeon Southampton
- Southend-on-Sea, Odeon Southend
- Stoke-on-Trent, Odeon Stoke
- Tewkesbury, The Roses Theatre
- Worcester, Odeon Worcester
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