The Children of Men

In this bleak vision of the future, women have lost the ability to get pregnant. Nobody knows why; all they know is that it has caused most of the world to fall into chaos. In England a repressive government has arisen and it clings to power by playing up the fear of the masses of refugees who are flocking to what is perceived as the only safe haven left. There’s a resistance movement, of course, which the government labels as a terrorist organization, of course.  Even though it’s based on a P.D. James novel from the early 90’s, The Children of Men speaks to many of today’s issues. The resistance plods along, not making much progress until they come across the rarest of all things, a pregnant woman. Now they must get her to the coast to be picked up by a possibly mythical organization called The Human Project, before the government takes her and uses the baby for propaganda purposes.

Caught in the middle of this is ex-activist Theo Faron, played by Clive Owen. He’s recruited by this ex-wife Julian, played by Julianne Moore, who’s the head of the resistance, to get the girl, Kee to the pick up point. Complicating this task is the fact that the members of the movement aren’t all of one mind as to what they should do with the pregnant woman. There is treachery and…well I won’t spoil it for you.

The Children of Men is a singularly intense film. It starts off with grim scenes of immigrants in cages under the perpetually overcast English skys. Then things start blowing up. The youngest person alive, a nineteen year old called Baby Diego, has just been killed in an ugly riot. After this tense beginning, director Alfonso Cuaron applies the screws, amping up the tension until the shattering climax. He is in absolute control of all the cinematic elements

The photography is dark, just a little underexposed. He uses handheld cameras during the action scenes, making them look like actual war footage. Every element emphasizes the despair of the situation. Likewise the performances, which are great. Clive Owen uses his jaded persona to full effect here as a reluctant participant. Julianne Moore doesn’t have much to do but she’s wonderful when she does it.  Michael Caine turns in a remarkable performance as Jasper, the world’s last hippy.

The Children of Men is science fiction at it’s best, cautionary, well thought out, and a darn good story with believable characters in a fantastic setting.

It’s one of the best films of the year.  


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January 2007
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