Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 105 minutes
This is the second film in the festival based on a novel by Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan (the other is On Chesil Beach
). This time, the screenplay is adapted by McEwan himself and directed by Richard Eyre. However, it is the casting of Emma Thompson (and Stanley Tucci as her husband) that elevates this sophisticated drama to resonate at a higher level. Thompson plays Fiona, a high-court judge who has a crisis in her profession and personal life when she must decide the fate of a very bright 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who is refusing a blood transfusion that could save his life. As she undertakes unusual measures to make her decision, she makes an error in judgment and becomes much more personally involved than she has ever allowed herself before. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Says:A tale of principle cruelly challenging morality, director Richard Eyre’s THE CHILDREN ACT begs an essential question: Is a life with great passion worth crippling consequence? Family court judge Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) toils with a marriage on the fringe, all the while managing the weight of a ruling handling the mortality of infant children. As her husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) confesses his desire for a sexual affair, she must also decide between letting two conjoined twins die or go forth with a surgical separation that lets only one of them live. With a tortured fate, another case presents an alternative reality: A 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness Adam (Fionn Whitehead, DUNKIRK), who is diagnosed with leukemia, will die without a blood transfusion but denies the procedure on account of his religious beliefs. Though possessing a brilliant mind, Adam is still three months away from legal adulthood, which puts his fate in Fiona's hands. While her past verdicts serve as a reflection of her internal struggles, her professional life soon becomes even more precariously intertwined with her emotions. Based on Ian McEwan’s 2014 novel of the same name, the story presents characters whose vulnerable and tireless psyches are constantly a factor. Their transparency mirrors the universal struggle of longing for more, and what is considered when opportunities for a perceived better life become available.
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