Children of Men

| December 21, 2006

Children of Men pictures the world in the very foreseeable future from now – November of 2027 – perhaps one generation. The youngest human on the planet has just been murdered at age 18 and humankind is facing its own extinction caused by an infertility defect.
But now one woman has gotten pregnant (and it is not Dick Cheney’s daughter) and it has fallen to Clive Owen to save the planet’s last hope. Oh why didn’t we listen to Al Gore when we had the chance?
I hope you will allow my bit of levity at the beginning of this review, but you should not mistake my tone for one which mirrors the movie. Children of Men is a very disturbing account of what could happen in this very near future as man disregards nature and the power he wields to his detriment. Most large cities in the world are in ruins, New York was hit with a nuclear bomb and in England, the country has decided that anyone who is not a British citizen must be deported, though we see scenes that speak to other things besides deportation. Think of it more like Jews getting off the trains in 1940’s Germany. Or Camp Bravo at Guantanimo in 2006 Cuba. The country has also decided that if you wish to take your own life, the appropriate drugs will be made readily available. Nothing like thinning the already depleted herd. Schools are all abandoned because there are no little ones to run down their halls and the last time the local midwife booked an appointment was in 2008.
Owen (Closer, Inside Man) plays Theodore Faron a lower level government paper pusher who, we find out, used to be married to the head of The Fishes, an antigovernment homegrown terror group fighting for the rights of refugees. Julianne Moore is that ex-wife Juliane Taylor, contacts Faron because she thinks he can get a specific refugee to the coast of England and onto a boat to freedom. Moore (Laws of Attraction, Far From Heaven) does not seem strong enough to be in this role, but we can live with it. Taylor seems stronger when her words and actions are described by Kee, the pregnant girl. Kee is played wonderfully by newcomer Claire-Hope Ashitey.
The Trailers/Warnings show you that this specific refugee is pregnant – the first bulging belly in 18 years – so how her delicate condition is handled would be of major importance to all sides. And there seem to be many sides to this film. Some well organized groups, some with just enough weapons to be taken seriously, you will have trouble keeping them all in perspective and deciding which, if any, are “the good guys.”
Director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) gives us many images to play with in this holiday season. There is the Madonna and Child, Moses being sent down the river to safety, apostles willing to sacrifice their lives, and unknown angels sent to protect the child. Cuarón will keep you on the edge of your seat – sudden violence is very common in this movie, and no characters are safe. As in any society in chaos, death can be immediate with no reason other than “wrong place, wrong time.” The sound work is amazing. With lots of gunfire, it is understandably loud, but near the end, you will witness a scene where 100 soldiers are immediately silent and awestruck. You think that things may be about to be all right, but the battle begins anew and you are left to sink or be thrown back into your seat.
This film is not as fanciful as 28 Days Later but has a feeling of both that and Blade Runner – if it were darker and less filled with hope. It is mentioned that without children, hope has disappeared.

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