MFF: Emma Thompson shines as judge who decides children’s fate in ‘The Children Act’
Courtesy Montclair Film Festival
By Jaimie Julia Winters
The Children Act
Friday, April 27, 7 p.m. Clairidge 1
Monday April 30, 7:45 p.m. Clairidge 2
486 Bloomfield Ave.
“The Children Act” will get its first U.S. screening at part of the Montclair Film Festival on Friday, April 27, and Monday, April 30, at the Clairidge Theater. Fans of Ian McEwan’s 2014 novel by the same name have been eagerly awaiting the movie release here in the states. Directed by Richard Eyre (On Chesil Beach) and produced by Duncan Kenworthy, BBC Films, the film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
With cast Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and Fionn Whitehead, the film centers around the 1989 U.K. act that designates the court as agent to decide delicate family law matters pertaining to minors. Emma Thompson plays Judge Fiona Maye, who in the beginning of the story must decide the fate of conjoined twins both of whom will die if not separated, but only one will survive the operation.
Another case which the movie is mainly centered on is that of 17-year-old Adam Henry played by newcomer Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk). Henry has leukemia but his religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses, bans him from the life-saving blood transfusion he needs. Although Henry’s family and community back his decision to refuse the blood, Maye is charged with deciding the outcome. At the same, Maye is going through some transition in her childless marriage to Jack played by Stanley Tucci. He threatens to have an affair and moves out, leaving her to think on her life.
Maye decides to visit Henry in the hospital and both their lives are changed forever. They share a love of music and she decides to order the transfusion. After, he seeks Maye out and both fill a need in each other.
Thompson who is rarely off-screen has been given top reviews in her performance of making agonizing decisions for the children put in to her hands. Whitehead, whose own mother had recently died of leukemia, is also given star reviews with his performance.
For those who loved the book, it should be noted the movie does end as the book does.
The movie is sold out, but there will wait line in which some without tickets can purchase them on Friday or Monday.
A24, an indie film maker/distributer and DirectTV, in partnership, bought the U.S. rights to “The Children Act.” The partnership agreement allows DirectTV show the film for 30 days on its network before theatrical release. It is supposed to be released soon on DirectTV.