The Children Act spends its time fishing all too obviously for Oscars in a lake where it simply shouldn’t habitate

There is a particular style of film making, often forgotten about, that spends its time fishing all too obviously for Oscars in a lake where they simply shouldn’t habitate. The Children Act doesn’t slide as easily into that category as much as, perhaps, The Dinner did last year, but it will certainly not be taking home any Academy Awards come February. The only strong positive from the film is Emma Thompson’s performance, and at that a nomination seems very much a long shot. Without any other intensely leading component behind her, The Children Act often feels like a poor use of everyone’s time.

Honorable Mrs. Justice Maye (Emma Thompson) is faced with a very moral dilemma when a Jehovah’s Witness under the age of 18 needs a blood transfusion to keep his body alive after a cancer operation. With his religion forbidding blood transfusions, and the boy also refusing, Maye must decide whether to go against his wishes and force the boy to take on the blood he deems so wrong.

The Children Act 2

As a courtroom drama, The Children Act is void of any real excitement. The outcome of the case just does not seem important enough, even though when looked at plainly, it’s an incredibly intriguing case. Ian McEwan often adapts his own novels into feature length scripts but in this case his transition hasn’t come off quite as smoothly as it could, seeming inferior to almost all of his more well-known work. There’s no expansion on the moral dilemma, and the film on multiple occasions, forgets to focus on what is truly important.

Thompson does shine, but often in the wrong places, with the courtroom and resulting story only dragging away from her excellent emotional performance. The Children Act isn’t given a leg to stand on and becomes a limp drama that doesn’t seem as if it fully understands what constitutes a great dilemma, when McEwan’s novels always show how well he understands the world around him.

There is very much an issue with the script and the films structure, and without those two positively vital elements to a successful drama, The Children Act becomes a limp version of what it could, and should have been. With greater impetus and importance placed into the story’s more entertaining moments, there would be a far more acceptable drama to show off.

3/5

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