The Cement Garden (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cement Garden (1992)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Cement Garden Photos

Movie Info

Ian McEwan's disturbing novel is given a chilly shimmer in this film adaptation by Andrew Birkin. The film takes place in a concrete slab of a house situated on the outskirts of an English town. The father (Hanns Zischer) is a consumptive creep, while the mother (Sinead Cusack) is a sweet and understanding matriarch. When the father dies of a heart attack after his garden is paved over, it is too much for the mother to bear, and after a few weeks she wastes away and also dies. This leaves the children to fend for themselves. The eldest sister and brother, Julie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Jack (Andrew Robertson), have to care for the younger children, Sue (Alice Coultard) and Tom (Ned Birkin). Without parental supervision, the four children give themselves up to their secret longings. Jack hides in corners to masturbate, but Julie uses her sexual attraction to lure Jack into an incestuous relationship. Even the younger children have their problems: Sue is mostly mute and spends all her time obsessively writing in her journal, while Tom feels that deep inside himself he is a girl trapped in a boy's body. The children hide the mother's remains in the basement and live off her bank account. The neighbors don't suspect a thing --that is until sleazy Derek (Jochen Horst) begins to come around in his red convertible, trying to get a date with Julie. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi


Jochen Horst
as Derek Julie's Friend
William Hootkins
as Commander Hunt [English version]
Michael Mendl
as Commander Hunt's Voice [German version]
Mike Clark
as Van Passenger
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Critic Reviews for The Cement Garden

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

it works much less compellingly than the novel, which goes out into the world - though the young actors reasonably approximate the characters in the book.

June 6, 2018 | Full Review…

Birkin, who wrote the film as well as directed it, has stuck close to the original -- the sort of spare, atmospheric novella that adapts well to the screen.

December 6, 2017 | Full Review…

The four young actors, by whom it stands or falls, deliver impressively, in particular Robertson and Gainsbourg.

November 13, 2017 | Full Review…

A very engaging drama based on Ian McEwan's novel.

November 7, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

creepy and gripping

August 26, 2005 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for The Cement Garden


The story relates what can happen when parents unexpectedly abandon their children. Super acting by Andrew Robertson as Jack and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Julie. With their parents dead, it is the older sister and the sexually curious younger brother who adjust to the reality of social rules and regulations which demand the family. Jack and Julie assume the role of parents. However, their acceptance promotes sexual emotions and not parental responsibilities. Eventually, the older sister's involvement with an admirer threatens their secret but developing incest relationship.

Daisy  Maduro
Daisy Maduro

Super Reviewer

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