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The Children Act (2017)

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As her marriage crumbles, a judge must decide a case involving a teenage boy who is refusing a blood transfusion on religious principle.


Richard Eyre


Ian McEwan (screenplay by), Ian McEwan (based on the novel by)
2,210 ( 142)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Stanley Tucci ... Jack Maye
Emma Thompson ... Fiona Maye
Fionn Whitehead ... Adam Henry
Ben Chaplin ... Kevin Henry
Jason Watkins ... Nigel Pauling
Rupert Vansittart ... Sherwood Runcie
Rosie Cavaliero ... Marina Green
Nikki Amuka-Bird ... Amadia Kalu QC
Dominic Carter ... Roger
Honey Holmes ... Director / Producer (as Angela Holmes)
Nicholas Jones ... Professor Rodney Carter
Anthony Calf ... Mark Berner
Eileen Walsh ... Naomi Henry
Stacha Hicks ... Jill
Paul Jesson ... Humphrey


As her marriage to Jack flounders, eminent High Court judge Fiona Maye has a life-changing decision to make at work - should she force a teenage boy, Adam, to have the blood transfusion that will save his life? Her unorthodox visit to his hospital bedside has a profound impact on them both, stirring strong new emotions in the boy and long-buried feelings in her. Written by Duncan Kenworthy

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


We all make choices. Hers make history.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a sexual reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »





Release Date:

14 September 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Children Act See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,293, 16 September 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$513,381, 4 November 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film is based on the 2014 novel of the same name written by Ian McEwan, who also wrote the script for the film. See more »


Throughout the film, her clerk and others address Fiona as 'my lady'; in reality they would simply call her 'judge'. 'My Lady' is a term of address used only in court. See more »


Fiona Maye: This court is a court of law not of morals.
See more »


Featured in Front Row: Episode #3.6 (2018) See more »


Partita No 2 in C Minor
written by Johann Sebastian Bach
(at the beginning of the film when Fiona Maye is sitting at the desk in her study)
See more »

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User Reviews

History making choices
2 October 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have a love for Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci, and both have done great work in many films worthy of their talent. Also have liked quite a fair bit of Richard Eyre's work and the writing of Ian McEwan, particularly 'Atonement' and 'On Chesil Beach'.

Seeing 'The Children Act', having really been compelled by the advertising, liking the book and having heard a lot of good things about it, it may not be one of Eyre's best or McEwan's, though adaptation-wise it does acquit itself well. It's also not one of the best overall films of Thompson or of Tucci (films, not performances). 'The Children Act' is an uneven film, but it is on the most part interesting and well done and its best parts and good things are absolutely wonderful. Not one of my favourite films of the year but not one of the worst either.

Commencing with the good things, 'The Children Act' is very well made. Particularly striking is the cinematography, both haunting and beautiful and enhancing the evocative period detail perfectly. Also haunting is the music, which does get embedded in the brain and takes a while to leave it. The script is mostly very literate and nuanced and Eyre directs impeccably.

The first half is wonderful. It's intelligently done, always absorbing and with some genuinely moving moments. Pace-wise, 'The Children Act' is deliberate but most of the time in film this is not a bad thing and this is not an exception for the first half. The characters are compelling in their realism, though Adam is more empathetic in the book. What is especially good throughout is the acting with possible career-best work from Thompson, who is just sensational, and affecting support from Tucci. Jason Watkins brings some levity and Fionn Whitehead has a bright future ahead if continuing down this path.

It is unfortunate however that the second half isn't as good. Again it is poignant, it has some nuances and it is beautifully shot, scored and acted. It just gets too melodramatic with some vague plot points that are under(or un) explored and the pacing slackens.

Writing loses its way a little too, the nuances aren't as frequent and corn creeps in. The outcome is easy to figure out too early.

Overall though, well done with many fine moments. Just wish it was more consistent. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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