Winner of the 2018 MIFF Audience Favorite Award!
“A marvelous performance from Emma Thompson. From the moment she awakens till her head hits the pillow at night, family court judge Fiona Maye does little more than think of the children, ruling on whether to separate conjoined ‘Siamese’ twins with one case (a tricky decision, as it means sentencing one to certain death so that the other might live) before turning around to evaluate whether to allow a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness to reject a life-saving blood transfusion that violates his religion. Fiona is played by the great Emma Thompson in her best role since 2001’s Wit. It’s not that Fiona doesn’t have other things on her mind, but her job is such that she takes each case rather personally, leaving her very little energy to tend to her personal life, including a marriage to her devoted, yet woefully neglected husband Jack (Stanley Tucci), who asks her after 11 months of bed-death whether he might have her permission to embark on an extra-marital affair. Told with a depth of empathy so profound—and so British—The Children Act is that rarest of things: an adult drama, written and interpreted with a sensitivity to mature human concerns—not just the quite personal complexities of maintaining a 30-year relationship with no children of their own, but the more broad-reaching tension between the law and firmly held religious belief. More restrained than director Eyre’s earlier work (Iris, Notes on a Scandal), yet driven by an energy for which he is directly responsible, the wonderfully nuanced film concerns Fiona’s attempts to reconcile these two weighty challenges: There is the fate of the Jehovah’s Witness, Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead), which rests in her hands, and there is the future of her marriage, which she has successfully shifted to the back burner for so long, but now hangs in the balance.”
—Peter Debruge, Variety. R. 105 Min.