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.

Popular on Variety

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

  • Visions du Réel Reimagined as Digital

    Switzerland's Visions du Réel Reimagined as Digital Only Event

    Visions du Réel, a film festival in Nyon, Switzerland, has changed the format of its next edition to accommodate the restrictions imposed by the Swiss government in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally planned to run from April 24 to May 2, the festival will now be a digital-only event held over a longer period, [...]


    SAG-AFTRA Announces Dues Extension Program for Members During Coronavirus Pandemic

    SAG-AFTRA has developed a program to provide dues relief for SAG-AFTRA members during the Covid-19 pandemic with an extension of the May 1 deadline. “Members experiencing financial hardship resulting from work stoppages related to Covid-19 will be granted a due date extension and an installment plan for those payments,” the union said. “As part of [...]

  • Studio Babelsberg

    Terminated 'Matrix 4,' 'Uncharted' Film Crews Demand Help From Studio Babelsberg

    Germany’s Studio Babelsberg is seeking to find a settlement with hundreds of film crew members following the shutdown earlier this month of Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix 4” and Sony Pictures’ “Uncharted” amid the coronavirus outbreak. The production stop has left many independent film crew members without pay and more than 300 have formed a working [...]

  • Empty movie theater

    Theater Owners Create $2.4 Million Fund for Cinema Workers

    The National Association of Theatre Owners and the Pioneers Assistance Fund have created an initial $2.4 million fund to provide financial assistance to movie theater employees who need help due to the coronavirus pandemic. The organizations said Monday that the first part of the initiative is a grant program that will provide a stipend to [...]

  • Bob Chapek Bob Iger Disney

    Bob Iger to Give Up Salary, Other Senior Disney Executives to Take Pay Cuts

    Disney has joined the list of companies implementing sizable pay cuts for senior executives amid the upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis. Bob Iger, who shifted from chairman-CEO to executive chairman last month, has opted to forgo his salary for the year. Bob Chapek, who succeeded Iger as CEO, has taken a 50% pay cut. [...]

  • Sundance Horror Movie 'Relic' Picked Up

    Sundance Horror Movie 'Relic,' Starring Emily Mortimer, Picked Up By Film Constellation

    London-based production, finance and sales company Film Constellation has boarded the critically-lauded “Relic,” the debut feature from Natalie Erika James. The film, which stars Emily Mortimer (“Shutter Island”), Robyn Nevin (“The Matrix Trilogy”) and Bella Heathcote (“The Neon Demon”), had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight section. The film, which [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content