The Children Act: The Movie - By Ian McEwan and directed by Richard Eyre

by darkspilver 22 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • darkspilver

    Richard Eyre's film adaptation of Ian McEwan's book The Childen Act has it's World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2017

    The Children Act

    Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci star in this adaptation of the novel by Ian McEwan, about a high-court judge who finds personal and professional crises colliding when she is asked to rule in the case of a brilliant 18-year-old boy who is refusing the blood transfusion that would save his life.

    Adapted by Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan from his own novel, this riveting drama stars two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as a British High Court judge tasked with making a decision that will speak to our most fraught questions regarding religious tolerance — and could mean life or death for an innocent young man.

    Judge Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is married to her work, which has become a problem for her husband, Jack (Stanley Tucci), who announces that he wants to have an affair. Treating the matter more as an annoyance than a life-altering crisis, Fiona kicks Jack out and focuses on her current case. The question: should a couple who are Jehovah's Witnesses be permitted to deny a life-saving blood transfusion to their leukemia-stricken 17-year-old son (Fionn Whitehead)? Fiona finds herself taking unusual measures to determine her verdict — measures that will have far-reaching consequences.

    Directed by Richard Eyre, The Children Act brims with intelligence, sophistication, and intrigue. The elevated tension places unusual focus on its protagonist's every word and gesture — a challenge Thompson meets with virtuosity. Her Fiona is a cauldron of conflicted feelings bubbling beneath a veneer of composure. As she finds herself sliding deeper into a mire of professional compromise and personal desperation, we come to empathize with her singular burden… and wait for the outcome with keen anticipation.




    CAST: Emma Thompson -

    CAST: Stanley Tucci -

    CAST: Fionn Whitehead -

    WORLD PREMIERE of The Children Act

    Toronto International Film Festival (7 to 17 September 2017)

    Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 2.30pm at the Elgin Theatre

    Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 8.45am at the Bell Lightbox

    Monday, September 11, 2017 at 1.45pm (press and industry only)

    Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 1.30pm (press and industry only)

  • darkspilver

    With just two hours to go before the SOLD-OUT WORLD PREMIERE of THE CHILDREN ACT takes place in Toronto, Canada as part of TIFF 2017 - the film's star, Emma Thompson, talks to Variety:

    Emma Thompson on 'The Children Act,' Why She Loved 'Wonder Woman'

    Variety, Saturday, September 9, 2017

    “The Children Act” premieres at the Toronto Film Festival, where it is looking for distribution. Thompson spoke with Variety about the film’s message, Hollywood’s superhero obsession, and the virtues and demerits of Netflix.

    Given how artistic and intelligent Adam is, it almost seems like child abuse to have raised him in a belief system like that? I mean he was indoctrinated. He didn’t get a say.

    I do absolutely believe it is a form of abuse. Though, I don’t think you can bring a child up in any belief system without finding out along the way that there’s some level of brainwashing. Jehovah’s Witnesses are brought up in an extreme set of beliefs. I’m an atheist, but I’m spiritual, but I do believe we’ve lost our human connections at some level. There are high levels of suicidal inclinations, depression and mental illness.

    In what ways are people brainwashed?

    In a funny sort of way we’re absolutely all brainwashed. Growing up for me in a straight white heterosexual world, I was certainly taught not to question things.


    Interestingly - in contrast to Apostasy which had it's World Premiere in Toronto yesterday - it seems that The Children Act is still looking for a distributor.....

  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath

    there was a film in the UK when i was in my teens--called Life for Ruth ( i think ) anyone remember it ?

  • Gorbatchov

    Great novel.


  • darkspilver

    stan livedeath: there was a film in the UK when i was in my teens--called Life for Ruth ( i think ) anyone remember it ?

    haha, sorry, way way too young.... but there is this....

  • darkspilver

    The first reviews....

    'The Children Act': Film Review | TIFF 2017

    The Hollywood Reporter, Saturday, September 9, 2017

    The bottom line: A drama illuminated by two electric performances

    In the London-set drama adapted from an acclaimed Ian McEwan novel, Emma Thompson plays a High Court judge who specializes in family law cases. And she delivers what has to be one of the most nuanced and moving performances of her entire career. The film is also notable for showcasing another superb performance, by up-and-coming actor Fionn Whitehead (also featured prominently in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk). But his is essentially a strong supporting role, whereas Thompson appears in virtually every scene. With two performances of this caliber, the film is guaranteed to generate attention and acclaim, even though its downbeat subject matter represents a major commercial challenge. The film is seeking an American distributor, and it deserves to find one who will give it the marketing push that it needs.

    The film has been intelligently adapted by McEwan himself, and Richard Eyre (Iris, Notes on a Scandal, and the underrated Stage Beauty) has done a good job of direction in certain scenes. A musical performance that ends in a breakdown by Fiona is especially well handled, and Eyre adds a telling visual touch in the final scene that was not in the novel. But the director also makes a few miscalculations that hurt the film. Although veteran composer Stephen Warbeck is credited for his score, much of the music actually consists of passages from Bach that add an unfortunate touch of ponderousness and pretension to the film. The story is lugubrious enough without including this dirgelike music to punish the audience.


    Emma Thompson Grapples with Conscience in Sluggish Legal Drama

    The Wrap, Saurday, Sepember 9, 2017

    TIFF 2017: Ian McEwan adapts his own novel about a conflicted judge, but for all the beating gavels, there’s no pulse here

    If Emma Thompson can’t make "The Children Act," a drama about a family-court judge conflicted over her own decisions and the precarious state of her own family, into something interesting and meaningful, then no one can. And she can’t.

    Screenwriter Ian McEwan, adapting his own novel, and director Richard Eyre ("Notes on a Scandal") have assembled a fine cast to tackle controversial subjects brimming over with dramatic possibility, but the results are stultifyingly subdued. It’s all so polite, so sober, so convinced of its own importance, that it never has a pulse. This is love and life and death discussed as though they were paint swatches for the guest room.

    There are big ideas swirling around "The Children Act" about love and fidelity and spirituality and guilt and responsibility, but McEwan and Eyre have each of them either land with a thud or dissipate into the mist. We’re left with Thompson looking glum and unsatisfied, while Stanley Tucci tut-tuts and Whitehead has explosions of exuberance that get creepier as the film progresses.

    A film this steeped in respectability really wants you to take it seriously (and to consider it during awards season), but its many fine pieces never add up the way they should.


    The Children Act

    NOW Toronto, Saturday, September 9, 2017

    This very faithful adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel – he wrote the screenplay – isn’t a barnburner but, anchored by Emma Thompson’s excellent performance, definitely keeps your interest.

    She plays an emotionally atrophied high court judge who gets more than she bargained for after she pays an official visit to the subject of her current case – a boy three months short of adulthood who’s refusing life-saving medical treatment for religious reasons.

    Set against her crumbling marriage – Stanley Tucci plays her husband – the story centres on her emerging panic as she rediscovers the ability to feel something. The film may be pedestrian in the ways it’s shot – a BBC production and all – but Thompson expertly embodies a woman deeply conflicted.

    Worth a look just for her.

  • darkspilver

    Three more reviews - two from the trade press, Screen Daily and Variety, and one from an entertainment blog, Dork Shelf.

    'The Children Act': Toronto Review

    Screen Daily, Saturday, September 9, 2017

    Emma Thompson stars in Ian McEwan’s adapation of his own novel opposite ’Dunkirk’’s Fionn Whitehead.

    Emma Thompson loses herself in The Children Act, subsuming all her natural lightness to embody one of novelist Ian McEwan’s more fascinating characters, a High Court judge charged with implementing the titular Children Act in family court. When the remote, humane, but unheedingly autocratic Justice Maye slips and allows herself to connect on a human level with one of her cases, tiny cracks form at the edge of her carefully controlled existence, and threaten to shatter it.

    While, as she clearly indicates, the law is paramount in her family court and the 1989 Children Act holds the welfare of the child to be paramount in all cases, Justice Fiona Maye is very much human, and the unthinkable decisions she has to make on a day-to-day basis are taking their toll. The biggest casualty is her marriage to Jack (Stanley Tucci). The judgement, for example, to separate conjoined twins, condemning one to a certain death, can only be made if she holds her emotions constantly in check, but that means her relationship, which is ironically childless, is dry and crumbling.

    Like last year’s Denial, which also premiered in Toronto, this is a courtroom drama, but one which slides the focus off the case and onto the human making the decisions in a situation which is endlessly slippery. The Children Act is a cerebral piece, for sure, and a disturbing one by the end, but Thompson’s performance brings life to the complex moral questions it attempts to examine.


    Toronto Film Review: Emma Thompson in 'The Children Act'

    Variety, Saturday, September 9, 2017

    A typically marvelous performance from Emma Thompson elevates what might have otherwise played as melodrama in this sophisticated Ian McEwan adaptation.

    Told with a depth of empathy so profound — and so British — that a rather sizable segment of the viewing public will either reject or ignore it outright, “The Children Act” is that rarest of things: an adult drama, written and interpreted with a sensitivity to mature human concerns — not just the quite personal complexities of maintaining a 30-year relationship with no children of their own, but the more broad-reaching tension between the law and firmly held religious belief.

    More restrained than director Eyre’s earlier work, yet driven by an energy for which he is directly responsible, the wonderfully nuanced film concerns Fiona’s attempts to reconcile these two weighty challenges: There is the fate of the Jehovah’s Witness, Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead), which rests in her hands, and there is the future of her marriage, which she has successfully shifted to the back burner for so long, but now hangs in the balance.

    Adam sits in his hospital bed holding a guitar, and in the first of several unabashedly sentimental such scenes, he and Fiona sing “Down by the Salley Gardens” together, a folk song whose words were written by Yeats.

    Their song, “Down by the Salley Gardens,” and music by extension serves as a recurring motif here, as Fiona indulges but one extracurricular pastime: rehearsing piano with her friend Mark (Anthony Calf), a High Court barrister. That hobby sets up the film’s climactic emotional scene — one whose raw, wrenching power depends entirely on how successfully audiences consider every preceding element to have worked. Thompson interprets the moment beautifully, and indeed, the entire film hinges on how deeply felt her performance comes across. The actress is playing someone whose brain is constantly working, which she depicts as a kind of distraction: While her body is there in frame, her mind is often miles away, thinking of the children — those she’s saved, those she’s lost and those of her own which she and Jack will never have.


    TIFF 2017: The Children Act

    Dork Shelf, Saturday, September 9, 2017

    Adapted from a Booker Prize-winning novel, The Children Act is certainly layered with meaning and importance. It’s clear from how the cast are acting really hard at all times and all the pregnant silences that what we are watching is supposed to be taken deeply, deeply seriously. Unfortunately all of the self-importance and stuffy dourness led to a film that feels dramatically inert. It’s about big ideas, yet is never remotely involving. That’s not good.

    The Children Act is certainly a fine example of British stuffiness masquerading as drama. Emma Thompson is rather gifted at portraying that sort of thing (even though she seems about as far away from repressed as possible), so she’s always a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, the film itself doesn’t quite live up to the performances. It touches on big ideas without really engaging in them, eventually succumbing to easy weepy melodrama in a way that robs the film of the naturalism it needs to succeed. Presumably the book allowed for so much more to be said between the lines than what fumbles onto the screen here. Oh well. That book still exists and it’s possible to pretend this movie doesn’t. So that’s a plus.


  • darkspilver

    Another review - this time from the UK's Guardian


    FYI The Hollywood Reporter's daily PRINT newspaper - especially produced for TIFF - reproduced the online review (as posted above) in a slightly cut-down, and reworded/edited version

    See page 17:

    Emma Thompson rules over hot-button legal drama: 3 out of 5 stars

    The Guardian, Sunday, September 10, 2017

    Emma Thompson’s performance as a brilliant but tortured judge elevates the second Ian McEwan adaptation of this year’s Toronto film festival, a stately courtroom saga with parallels to the Charlie Gard case

    The Children Act is a high-minded, stately and rather Shavian drama, directed by Richard Eyre and adapted by Ian McEwan from his 2014 novel; it stars Emma Thompson as a brilliant and widely admired judge, Fiona Maye, on whose decisions the fate of various barristers and clients depend. Her name could be a playful pun. Fiona’s ruling in a uniquely painful case concerning a desperately sick teenage boy coincides with her own marital crisis, which we are given to understand is crucially bound up with her childlessness.

    Fiona is asked to rule on the matter of the married parents (played by Ben Chaplin and Eileen Walsh) of a boy, Adam (Fionn Whitehead) just shy of 18 years old and adulthood, who is suffering from cancer. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses and will not permit him the simple blood transfusion which would save his life. But because Adam is a legal minor, Fiona can make decisions in his interests which would go against the parents’ religious scruples – which Adam appears to share.

    It is a highly watchable drama of the highly educated public-servant class – it would make a good stage-play – and the film is put together with an intelligence which saves it from being preposterous, although that’s a bit of a close thing.

    The Children Act is concerned with love, intimacy and moral responsibility and it is refreshing to see a movie which sets itself standards of this sort. But there is also something a little too neat in the way all these things are wrapped up. Emma Thompson’s performance, so elegant and vulnerable, carries the picture.


  • Xanthippe

    Ian McEwan likes to explore different professions in his novels. In Saturday it's a surgeon, in Solar it's a physicist and in Sweet Tooth the key characters are an MI5 operative and an author.

    Interesting that he wanted to explore the life of a judge, I haven't read this one but it sounds fascinating. I suspect he was more interested in the ramifications of a judge coping with a difficult case than in JWs.

  • darkspilver
    Xanthippe: Interesting that he wanted to explore the life of a judge, I haven't read this one but it sounds fascinating. I suspect he was more interested in the ramifications of a judge coping with a difficult case than in JWs.


    McEwan condemns 'perverse and inhumane' decisions of religious parents

    The Daily Telegraph, March 28, 2014

    Ian McEwan, the author, has said he believes religion is unhelpful in making rational choices, particularly those involving cases that may be dealt with in the Family Courts.

    Non religious people are better at making reasonable, compassionate judgements, Ian McEwan argues, as he condemns the "utterly perverse and inhumane" decision of religious parents allowing their children to die.

    McEwan, the author of Atonement, On Chesil Beach and Enduring Love, said he believed religion to be "distinctly unhelpful" in making rational choices.

    His new book, The Children's Act, will explore the issues of the family courts, and the heartbreaking decisions faced when parents insist their child must die for religious reasons.

    Speaking of his research in the family courts, McEwan told an audience he now believed the selfishness of some modern parents was ruining the interests of the children in their care.


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