Meet Fiona Maye, a British family court judge. Maye, played by Emma Thomson, presides over the most difficult of cases that fall under the Children Act. She seeks to protect the rights of the most vulnerable minors, including a case involving the separation of conjoined twins.
Maye is given an urgent case involving the rights of a couple who are Jehovah’s Witnesses to refuse a blood transfusion for their 17-year-old son Adam (Fionn Whitehead). Adam’s death is imminent without this procedure. Maye makes the uncharacteristic choice to visit the child in the hospital in order to help inform her decision. Her ruling, expected because she honors the precedents and intent of British law, comes early on in the movie. But Maye’s bedside visit sets off an unforeseen entanglement of desire and obsession.
Professional wellness and boundaries become blurred even as they are very clear in Maye’s own mind. Woven throughout is the tender tale of love of Maye’s husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) for their marriage, which is strained under the burden of neglect.
Thompson’s performance in The Children Act is classic and excellent, and she is well supported. Based on Ian McEwan’s novel by the same title, the script is not entirely satisfying yet offers plenty of food for thought and consideration. On disc now, rated R for a sexual reference. (A24)