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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Emma Thompson plays High Court Judge, Fiona Maye who’s married to lecturer Jack Maye played by Stanley Tucci. The film follows Fiona’s hectic work life as she deals with challenging cases which carry much moral ambiguity. The main focus of the narrative comes with one case in particular involving a teenage boy, Adam, played by Fionn Whitehead, who is suffering from leukaemia. The story is a fascinating insight into cases like this where the law is forced to clash with the personal beliefs of individuals. It’s an involved debate which will draw in audiences and make you think what side of the argument you would back if you found yourself in the same situation. However, whilst this is more than ample content to create a stimulating story it’s really only the surface level of what the film has to offer. Beyond this The Children Act is also a complex character drama exploring the relationships outside of Fiona’s work life. This allows for an engaging parallel to the moral debates showcased in the cases she works with and combines to make an especially thought provoking drama.
Emma Thompson is fantastic, she’s utterly formidable as Fiona the High Court Judge and even more impressive when the gowns and wigs are stripped away leaving the more human and vulnerable Fiona behind the career. Her support from Tucci and Whitehead is great and allows her to really excel with even the smaller characters being cast well, resulting in a really strong performance from the cast as a whole. With its thoroughly interesting debates on morality and law The Children Act is a fascinating film from the get go. As if this wasn’t enough, the film then further develops into a challenging character drama offering even more thought provoking content than was already present. Brought to life brilliantly by Emma Thompson and the rest of the cast, this McEwan adaptation quickly becomes an irresistible courtroom drama which should stimulate the minds of those cinephiles looking for a more involved cinematic experience.