'The Children Act' [DVD]
(Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, et al / DVD / R / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)
Overview: As her marriage crumbles, a judge must decide a case involving a teenage boy who is refusing a blood transfusion on religious principle.
DVD Verdict: Based on the novel by Ian McEwan (Atonement) and from director Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal and Iris, Emma Thompson is a prominent high court judge. Her specialty is family law. She is extremely busy, her heavy workload has distanced her from her husband and her marriage is suffering.
Her marriage is childless, and now sexless to the husbands growing frustration, it comes to the point where he announces his desire for an affair.
Her next case is a 17 year old boy, still a child in the eyes of the law, suffering from leukemia, he is refusing a lifesaving blood transfusion due to religious beliefs (Jehovah Witness).
The dilemma is for her to decide whether the boy can refuse the blood transfusion, her judgment will ultimately save or end a life. The child's welfare was always the courts paramount consideration, and the transfusion goes ahead, the boy recovers.
Sadly, the film falls a little flat, for me, from this point forward. The husband has his affair, two days later returns to a frosty home. The boy is infatuated with the judge and turns into a stalker. The leukemia returns but he's 18 by this time and makes his own decision about treatment.
That said, the eventual scenario is a real world dilemma that feels a lot more legitimate than you'd perhaps expect. Rendered with a realism and an empathetic impartiality it allows you to understand both sides and maybe even walk away with a better understanding of the wider debate (one which seems to grace our real-life papers more often than you'd expect).
Indeed, the piece promotes empathy on the whole, ironically asking us not to judge and to allow all parties to express their sides, and this makes it feel wonderfully inclusive.
It dabbles in pretty deep character work, too, which is bolstered by universally good performances. It's not thunderously enjoyable but it's never boring and, though it can sometimes feel a little bit 'TV-movie' (in the modern sense of 'TV'), there are intriguing things going on in terms of its narrative and themes.
An all-star cast including Academy AwardŽ winner Emma Thompson (Best Actress, Howards End, 1992) leads the way in 'The Children Act', arriving on DVD November 13th from Lionsgate. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:
Audio Commentary with Director Richard Eyre, Writer Ian McEwan, and Producer Duncan Kenworthy.