Small Screen Reviews

The Children Act Review

The Children Act 1 DVD/Blu-ray

Entertainment One   

What's It About?
A High Court judge takes on one of her most complex cases involving a teenager and the need to weigh up the law vs religion, just as her personal life is unravelling.

Who’s In It?
Emma Thompson (Sense And Sensibility, The Remains Of The Day, Saving Mr Banks)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, The Lovely Bones, Spotlight)   

Other notables include:
Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk)
Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line, Dorian Gray, & more recently Snowden)
Jason Watkins (Taboo, Hampstead, & more recently A Very English Scandal)   

Director: Richard Eyre (Iris, Notes On A Scandal, The Hollow Crown)   

Audiences Expect:
In the latest adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel, the complex debate of law versus religion rears its head. Emma Thompson plays Fiona Maye, a high flying High Court judge, who appears at first glance to have poured her life into her career and the individual cases (usually family law cases), to the detriment of her marriage. As a result, her husband (played by a very matter of fact Stanley Tucci) announces his intention to have an affair unless things change.
It is at this point, with her personal life unravelling, Maye receives one of her more complex cases involving a 17-year-old who requires a blood transfusion to save his life. The only problem being that he and his parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses and therefore can’t agree to the transfusion. As she becomes more emotionally invested in the case, things become ever more complicated.
Emma Thompson gives a sublime performance as a woman at the height of her powers, but also at times at her lowest ebb. She is given some fine support from the ever impressive youngster Fionn Whitehead, who displays real transition as a youngster with bravado to an emotionally vulnerable teenager.
Stanley Tucci and Jason Watkins are equally engaging, but have limited room in which to work, and without much more than the two key individuals and the complexities of the case, the film fails to really ignite. That said, it is a thoroughly engaging watch with some wonderful performances.     

In A Nutshell:
A complex and engaging drama with a wonderful performance from Emma Thompson, which never quite ignites.

Emma Thompson’s performance
Jason Watkins’ quiet yet diligent & discreet aide   

The script never quite ignites
The support cast are underused

Release date: 22/01/2019

Certificate: 12 / 12A