At A Glance
Childless, Judge Fiona Maye’s marriage is in trouble. Immersing herself in the safety of her work, she is presented with a case, that of 17 year old Jehovah’s Witness, Adam Henry. Adam has Leukaemia and is declining a desperately needed blood transfusion. With The Children Act 1989 in mind Maye will need to decide whether to rule in favour of the medical profession who wish to save his life, or follow the wishes of a dying boy.
Directed by Richard Eyre
Written by Ian McEwan
Based on the book by Ian McEwan
Released by Entertainment One
2018, 105 minutes
Emma Thompson as Fiona Maye
Stanley Tucci as Jack Maye
Rupert Vansittart as Sherwood Runcie
Fionn Whitehead as Adam Henry
Ben Chaplin as Kevin Henry
Jason Watkins as Nigel Pauling
The Children Act - UK Premiere Interviews
At the UK Premiere of The Children Act, Premiere Scene’s Claire Bueno and Anthony Bueno had the welfare of the film talent in mind when they interview actors Emma Thompson, Fionn Whitehead, Anthony Calf, director Richard Eyre, writer of book and screenplay Ian McEwan and producer Duncan Kenworthy.
Join us as we ask Emma Thompson of the emotional journey of her character, Fionn Whitehead on his research into the Jehovah’s Witness faith, Anthony Calf on the strength of the script, Ian McEwan on the genesis of this story, Duncan Kenworthy about shooting at the Royal Courts of Justice and Richard Eyre on Emma Thompson being the only gal for the job!
By Claire Bueno
The Children Act ensures that exemplary storytelling is safeguarded and its welfare promoted.
Inspired by an evening spent in the company of Sir Alan Ward and his esteemed colleagues, novelist Ian McEwan ((Atonement, On Chesil Beach) was opportunistically exposed to the written accounts of appeal court judge’s own judgements, which for the writer read like short stories.
These stories were not what you would expect. For many of us, when we think of courts, or the judicial system our minds instantly jump to crime and punishment. What McEwan found was much, much more relatable, as these stories were based on the family division.
Some years later Sir Alan shared with McEwan the story of a Jehovah’s Witness case. The thought of a judge driven by compassion as well as intent evoked something profound in the writer.
The result shows as The Children Act is an original unbiased story where the characters are rich and complex.
Having worked together previously on The Imitation Game in the late 70s and The Ploughman’s Lunch in ’81, McEwan and Richard Ayre had vowed they would work together again. Little did they know, that thirty plus years would elapse before they would reunite, and forge their collaborative efforts.
For the Notes on a Scandal director there was only one leading lady he had in mind to play Fiona Maye, the Family Division, High Court Judge, and that was Emma Thompson.
Thompson has an undisputedly accomplished body of work. Who can forget that heart-breaking moment in Love Actually when her character comes to realisation that her husband’s fidelity is in question? Name me a women that couldn’t associate with that pain?!
In The Children Act I wonder whether the respected actress has been given the opportunity to explore this emotional torment to a deeper extent.
Childless and in her 50s Fiona Maye’s marriage is in trouble, her husband Jack played so subtly by Stanley Tucci (Spotlight) confronts her. Their lack of intimacy over the last year has created a void in their relationship, a void which if not filled, he warns, will result in him finding solace elsewhere.
For a woman who is used to being in control and unable to display emotion, she immerses herself in the safety of her work.
She is presented with a case that requires her immediate attention. Adam Henry has Leukaemia and is in desperate need of a blood transfusion. The problem is that on the eve of his 18th birthday Adam is of Jehovah Witness faith and as such is not permitted to receive the lifesaving treatment.
Adam still considered a minor, is refusing treatment. Maye will need to decide to rule in favour of the medical profession who wish to save his life, or follow the wishes of a dying boy.
Paramount for the judge is the Children Act 1989, to ensure children are safeguarded and their welfare is promoted.
Maye makes an unorthodox decision to visit Adam in hospital to hear whether his decision to die a painful, debilitating death is truly his wishes, or whether he is under pressure by his peers.
Actor Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) portrays young Adam with great vulnerability, he may be physically weak, but he exudes and inner strength.An inner strength admired by the seasoned judge and in the few moments in which they are acquainted there becomes a connection, an affinity that will have a lasting effect on both of them.
For most of us, going to court is quite an alien experience. One of the many ways in which the film works is in creating a routine and the normality of life for those who work in the courts. There’s a real sense of propriety, steeped in tradition and history.
The Children Act will present an unorthodox love triangle, between husband, wife and a son she never had. Could this desperately sick child be the one that finally heals Maye?