Ian McEwan is a lucky man. The film versions of his novels “Atonement” “On Chesil Beach,” have never shaken us or most reviewers awake, but they’re so well cast that we go to see them anyway.

Take 2007’s “Atonement.” Except for the pale and trembling Keira Knightley, it had Saoirse Ronan, James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch. What’s not to like?

“The Children Act” is here. Who doesn’t want to see a movie with Emma Thompson in it? And then add the wonderful, but badly miscast Stanley Tucci as her husband, and we should have a winner. Well, runner up anyway.

Emma is Fiona Maye, a taut by-the-book judge in London’s High Court, who, in her off hours, is an excellent amateur pianist who on occasion, smiles and relaxes with her new piano.

Her husband Jack (Tucci) is a university professor who teaches the classics. They live, drink and eat splendidly, play doubles with friends, and attend starchy black tie society dinner parties where her honor is often asked to play.

Sounds like a dull but solid couple. We learn, however, that there is too much starch in their bed sheets when Jack, pouring Fiona an evening cocktail, tells her he would like to have an affair, if she doesn’t mind.

As if Fiona isn’t having enough on her hands. She’s currently dealing with Jehovah’s Witness parents (a very good Ben Chaplin and Eileen Walsh) who don’t want the nonsectarian doctors to do their duty and save their leukemia-stricken son Adam (a dazzling Fionn Whitehead “Dunkirk”) with a lifesaving blood transfusion. Of course, when God vs. Science raises it’s ugly head, it’s going to be big media affair.

Ever the perfectionist, Fiona goes to the hospital to get Adam’s story. This rips the movie right open.

She is confronted with a handsome, bright young man who seems, in his failing last moments, to embrace his faith full bore. He wants no “tainted” blood, in his veins, thank you very much, so go away and let me go to Heaven.

Wait. There is a guitar on his bed (in the book, his instrument is a violin). Fiona seizes the moment and asks him to play a bit. He does, rendering Benjamin Britten’s setting of the sad Yeats poem, “Down by the Salley Gardens,” which Fiona knows well. She sings along with it, and a complex relationship takes shape.

Here’s where it gets troubling. Adam is touched by Fiona’s personal interest, accepts the medical intervention and recovers. While Fiona’s hubby is out on a two-day vacation with his girlfriend, Adam begins stalking Fiona, popping up wherever she is, making her — and us — nervous.

But this is McEwan country; characters are confused, distracted by duty maybe, but never boil rabbits.

Adam has simply seen some bit of human caring in Fiona that the rest of us have missed, and wants more, thank you very much.

When he crashes a posh party, feverish and wet with rain, he kisses her and she seems not to mind. Are we going towards a “Tea and Sympathy” moment here? With passages of ominous music and lots of rainy streets, will there be a tragic ending for all?

Again, this is McEwan country, so there will be no car crash, suicide or May-December love affair. McEwan, who wrote his own script, and director Richard Eyre, who just worked with Thompson and Anthony Hopkins in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” on BBC, give us their idea of a British happy ending.

We settle for this: watching Emma Thompson once again show us what film acting is all about, and marveling in the discovery of a new star in Fionn Whitehead. His every move and even speech pattern reminds us of a young Tom Courtenay.

“The Children Act” is 105 minutes of Emma Thompson, bits of the great Stanley Tucci and a new star in the night sky. What’s not to like?

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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