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Parents' Guide to

The Children Act

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Adult themes, great lead performance in legal/moral drama.

Movie R 2018 105 minutes
The Children Act Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

what happens when Life is valued more than Dignity

Language, sex, violence: basically G or PG (yes, one "f***ed", but clean besides) Subject matter: PG, maybe PG-13 Most families need not worry about inappropriate subject matter. I doubt many kids would find the film interesting and tune in. And as for sexuality and cheating in marriage and such, I imagine if a viewer is old enough to understand what's going on, in most families they're old enough for the material in this film. That said, I enjoyed the journey into faith, sin (if that's what you want to call it), and the spiritual growth that's possible when we screw up. Things really change, after the Judge rules that Life is more valuable than Dignity. In a sense, it's a surprise ending of how more and deeper Dignity comes to all characters, when there were moments before when Dignity was not chosen.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This drama offers another sterling performance by one of the screen's greatest actresses, but Thompson far outshines an uneven and ultimately uninvolving film. The Children Act touches on some interesting points: the tension between religious freedom and the state's responsibilities, the unshackling of a young mind, the struggle of a woman at a personal crossroads to balance multiple pulls, and an adult examination of a marriage in crisis. Unfortunately, none of these topics is plumbed in depth. The marital crisis, largely on the strength of Thompson and Tucci's performances, ends up being more resonant than the main thread of how Fiona handles Adam's attentions. Richard Eyre, who's made outstanding films like Iris and Notes on a Scandal, here fails to engage us. And writer Ian McEwan's adaptation of his own novel blows past major beats. Those factors, along with Whitehead's single-note performance, keep the crucially important Adam at arm's length from viewers. From the start, he seems perhaps deranged; there aren't enough levels in his portrayal, background, or journey to convince us otherwise. Thus, his final decisions seem to come from nowhere. That's a fatal flaw, as the film's dramatic success depends heavily on his development.

Thompson, on the other hand, delivers. The actress' intelligence shines through. There's never a doubt that she's seeking and absorbing all the needed information, that she's receiving it all and that it's affecting her. Her Fiona is a model of public restraint with an emotionally intense private life. Thompson is present in every moment, prodding, reacting. And her chemistry with Tucci is excellent. It would be a pleasure to see them paired in another film, presumably one more memorable than The Children Act.

Movie Details

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