You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

All Good Children

Intensely atmospheric and featuring an outstanding lead perf.

With: Jack Gleeson, Imogen Jones, David Brazil, Austin Moulton, Lara Persain, Martin Firket, Tora Young, Kate Duchene, David Wilmot.

Intensely atmospheric and featuring an outstanding lead perf from 17-year-old Jack Gleeson, drama “All Good Children” would be almost perfect if only it were a tad less portentous. Feature debut for Brit writer-helmer Alicia Duffy, who’s made acclaimed shorts, pic tells a disquieting story of first love turning very sour when an Irish boy (Gleeson) meets a posh English girl (Imogen Jones) in the French countryside. “Good Children” will need to earn as many straight A’s from critics and gold stars from awards bodies as it can to break out of niche distribution.

Recently bereaved by the death of their mother, Irish-reared 12-year-old Dara (Jack Gleeson, who’s actually 17) and his slightly older brother Eoin (David Brazil) are dropped off by their father (Martin Firket) to live for a few weeks with French aunt Valerie (Lara Persain). With Valerie busy running her farm, the boys, who speak no French, are left to their own devices.

In the woods, they meet Bella (newcomer Imogen Jones), a girl about Dara’s age, and her much younger brother Theo (Austin Moulton), two bored English kids who are none too happy their downsizing but clearly monied parents (Kate Duchene and David Wilmot) have decided to move the family to France into a massive fixer-upper chateau nearby.

Needy Dara and coquettish Bella pair off to play at first like children in the woods, where they discover an abandoned hunter’s lodge they decide to make their secret place. But first kisses lead Dara to think their relationship means as much to Bella as it does to him. When he’s painfully disabused of this mistaken notion, things take a violent turn for the worse.

Adapted very loosely from the novel “The Republic of Trees” by Sam Taylor, script by helmer Duffy is sometimes a bit irritatingly elliptical, especially when it comes to revealing backstories. Rifles and a creepy pit full of water signpost disaster too obviously.

That said, Duffy, her crew and cast impart the characters’ deepest feelings through exchanged looks, distorted sound and exquisitely framed visuals courtesy of lenser Nanu Segal. General sense of painterly discombobulation may recall such contempo Brit arthouse work as Lynne Ramsay’s “Ratcatcher,” Duane Hopkins’ “Better Things,” and Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy’s “Helen,” but “All Good Children” is more straightforward and less complex.

Thesping is strong, particularly by the youngsters, but Gleeson, with his massive blue eyes and anxious, ever-hopeful expression, is the pic’s big discovery. Spooky, droning score thoughtfully counterpoints the pic’s mood, but might have been used a little less to achieve maximum effect.

All Good Children


Production: A Caveman Films presentation of an Element Pictures, Artemis Prods., Cinema Defacto production, with the participation the Irish Film Board and the support of Eurimages, CRRAV Nord Pas de Calais, CNC, Audiovisuel de la Communaut francaise de Belgique et des teledistributeurs wallons, Region Wallonne, Canal Plus, Arte/ZDF, Arte/Cofinova 5, Backup Films, UK Film Council, Film4, Tax Shelter Incentive of the Federal Government of Belgium. (International sales: Coach 14, Paris.) Produced by Jonathan Cavendish. Executive producers, Andrew Lowe, Ed Guiney, Carlo Dusi. Co-producers, Patrick Quinet, Tom Dercourt, Tora Young. Directed, written by Alicia Duffy, based on a novel by Sam Taylor.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Nanu Segal; editor, Nicolas Chaudeurge; music, Steven Stapleton, Daniel Figgis; production designer, Igor Gabriel; art director, Paul Rouschop; set decorator, Jenny Oman; costume designer, Tricia Perrott; sound (Dolby Digital), Simon Willis; sound designer, Niall Brady; re-recording mixer, Ken Galvin; SFX effects supervisors, Olivier de Laveleye, Marie-Pierre Franckx; line producers, Martin Wady, Thomas Santucci, Stephane Quinet; assistant director, Luke Johnston; casting, Oonagh Kearney. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 20, 2010. Running time: 80 MIN.

With: With: Jack Gleeson, Imogen Jones, David Brazil, Austin Moulton, Lara Persain, Martin Firket, Tora Young, Kate Duchene, David Wilmot.(English, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content