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The Children Act

26 Jul

The Children Act — directed by Richard Eyre. Drama. 105 minutes Color 2017.
★★★★★
The Story: A woman faces herself in areas of her life because of the one in which she is most conscientious — as a British Children’s Court judge.
~

When I watch actors in the certain way I do — which is in a state of incomprehension and wonder about their ability to do what they do at all — although for many years I myself have been a reasonably successful actor of principal roles on the stage and in film — I sometimes also wonder what some of them are doing up there at all. Some of them don’t seem to be actors in any sense of the word. Christopher Reeve. Kim Novak.

But when I see Emma Thompson, here in the role of a lifetime, as the family court judge in The Children Act, I am struck by the fact that she is a person doing exactly what she was meant by God to be doing — being an actor so you can’t tell.

Come see for yourself.

In The Children Act there is nothing to distract you from her by elements not up to the high standard in which she belongs. Everyone rises to the occasion.

Jason Watkins, who plays her clerk, her husband played by Stanley Tucci, and the young man whose life she must adjudicate played by Fionn Whitehead bring conviction to the story by being convinced. Stage director Richard Eyre, cinemaphotographer Andrew Dunn, editor Dan Farrell, costumer Fotini Dimu, and composer Stephen Warbeck enliven a film which never cheats, always honors the attention it grips, and fulfills a story whose expectations surprise.

The Children Act is a film for grownups. An entertainment which plays up to our hungry intelligence and teases our moral gauge.

The title, The Children Act, refers to an Act Of Parliament which reserves the duty of judges to find in favor of the child in medical cases.

But the story has a wider spread.

For The Children Act is law, and law is mechanical. The machinery of law has driven and influenced Emma Thompson’s judge in other areas of her life. It has influenced her marriage and it has also invaded her capacity to greet properly the consequences of her judgments.

Emma Thompson plays a character who goes by the book. Restrained, confined in her human interests, regimented in her day, inexpressive to those close to her, save to preserve her distance from them, she is, nonetheless, eloquent in her professional life. And she has an almost inhuman talent to pay attention.

Emma Thompson’s face has been with us for decades. She is now, at 61, in high middle age, every fracture showing. We have grown up with her. She is one of those movie stars, now too few, who live among one’s household gods, as one of the lares and penates that reassure one that certain best and lasting virtues still do live.

I am an eighty-six-year-old man, and when I ask myself, “Bruce, who would you like to be when you grow up?”

I’ll tell you who. I say, “When I grow up, I’d like to grow up to be to be Emma Thompson!”

 
 
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