The Cement Garden

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 10


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,483
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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) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for The Cement Garden

  • Jul 28, 2009
    The plot focuses on the lives of four children after their father dies & mother is sick with a mysterious illness. Two eldest kids- Jack & Julie have the responsibility of managing the household with meager resources. They share a tense relation which is bordering on edges of attraction. Soon mother's illness gets worse which unfolds a strange change of events. It's a dark tale without any pretensions . The ambiance is bleak & dreary. Director takes a realistic approach on the strange relation between the siblings. The teenage actors have done a fair job in portraying the angst & confusion which marks their lives.
    Ut S Super Reviewer
  • May 01, 2009
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2009
    <div style="width:280px;"><a href=""><img src="" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href=""> </a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href=""><img src="" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href=""> </a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href=""><img src="" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href=""></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href=""><img src="" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href=""><B><I>The Cement Garden</I></B></a> </div></div> Based more or less faithfully on the novel by Ian McEwan, A family of four children is orphaned, and they decide to encase their late mother in concrete in the basement rather than be taken into custody by child welfare services. Directed by Andrew Birkin, with Andrew Robertson, Charlotte Gainsbourg , Alice Coulthard, Ned Birkin, and Sinéad Cusac. When their parents die of natural causes a family of two children and two teens decides to handle the situation themselves and not involve the authorities. After entombing their mother in the basement, the younger brother embarks upon an exploration of transvestism as the older brother and sister begin a steamy, tempestuous incestuous relationship. Matters become complicated when the girl invites a dapper stranger into the fold who smells a rat and isn't as liberal in his values as he portends to be. This is an offbeat, atmosphere piece with more of a dream-like storyline than a focused and clear plot. The protagonists puzzle us by not taking obvious precautions. The result is a slightly surreal odyssey about unusual family values and the exploration of taboos. "I was just playing a game ... Does it seem unnatural to you?"
    Pamela D Super Reviewer

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