The Children Act

Poster for The Children Act

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 (Thompson, An Education) is married to her work, which has become a problem for her husband, Jack (Stanley Tucci, Spotlight; Margin Call), 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 (Notes on a Scandal), 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.

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.” (Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International)

The Children Act is that rarest of things: an adult drama, written and interpreted with a sensitivity to mature human concerns.” (Peter Debruge, Variety)

“The two central performances could hardly be better.” (Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter)