Here Comes the Judge
As an avid Emma Thompson fan, I want to thank her for a brilliant performance in The Children Act. Of course, itís no surprise to see Thompsonís transformation into the character she plays on screen. She does that in every film. Examples? Movies as diverse as Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, Saving Mr. Banks and Nanny McPhee. But this time, I couldnít help thinking she was actually feeling the various emotions of Judge Fiona Maye -- and not just acting -- in each scene.
This very dedicated jurist is busy making sure she arrives at the right decision for the cases brought to her. Unfortunately, sheís so involved in her work that her husband of many years (played by Stanley Tucci) doesnít get much attention. Itís no wonder he wants to have an affair. He tells her this at a bad time, for Fiona has been assigned an important case -- one involving a life-or-death matter. Itís also a case that ends up changing almost everyone involved, including Fiona.
In Britain, a law was passed called The Children Act, which requires government intervention in cases where individuals under the age of 18 refuse life-saving treatment. Thatís why this drama includes scenes about religious objections to blood transfusions. And thatís the difficult situation Fiona must deal with.
She works so hard; is that okay?
The lawís her life. No time to play.
But one case causes her to blink
and feel and touch and really think.
A teenage boy about to die
refuses blood. She must know why.
So to the hospital she goes.
Their conversation simply glows.
That scene is cinematic gold.
Itís touching and extremely bold.
As the judge, Emma Thompson soars.
Her talent shines and never bores.
I wish the scenes were all this fine.
But many seem just out of line.
Too many things thrown in the plot.
At least thatís what this critic thought.
Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) plays the teenage boy in question. This handsome young actor turns in a revelatory performance in this key role, especially during the scene mentioned above. So if this review were only about Thompson and Whitehead, it would be one-hundred percent positive. However, several things annoyed me enough to take me out of the film, and I always hate it when that happens.
For example, the opening section of the movie seems too long and too frantic. Thereís too much happening to follow. And the ending offers an unsatisfactory explanation for the final decision made by one of the main characters.
Also, itís not fair to tease the audience about a certain song and never play it. That might be a minor point for many people, but for me it tips the scale. I know what you're thinking. "What's the title of that song?" You'll have to see this movie to find out.
(Released by A24 and rated ďRĒ by MPAA. Available now on Prime Video)
For more information about The Children Act, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.