The year is 2027. Humankind is on the brink of extinction because women are now infertile. No new children have been born anywhere in the world for the past 18 years. It is no longer a brave new world. It is a tired, dying one.
“Children of Men” is not for the faint of heart. It is a cold, callous, calculated film that throws all of the worst of humanity into the faces of its audience. Set against a backdrop of England the movie definitely makes you think about several timely topics like immigration, rich versus poor, and terrorism. Things become less black and white and splinter into a multitude of shades of gray.
The whole world is in chaos. Societies have collapsed in Eastern Europe and Africa and many people have migrated to London in hopes of finding a better life. England, however, wants nothing to do with the immigrants, which they cage and send to refugee camps where the people continue to squabble and fight with one another.
The youngest person in the world has just died and everyone is in mourning – – and in terror for what this signifies for the future. Unbeknownst to them, hope exists on the horizon if unlikely hero Theo Faron (played by Clive Owen) successfully joins forces with his supposed “terrorist” wife Julian (played by Julianne Moore) in protecting a young Fuji girl named Kee (played by Claire-Hope Ashitey) who carries with her a highly treasured secret.
Based on the P.D. James adaptation of the novel “Children of Men” is relentless in its action, horror, and mayhem. Morality seems to no longer exist as men and women alike just take what they want; caring nothing for the plight of their fellow human beings.
Theo is thrust into the part of a hero, a role he clearly neither seeks nor wants. But Kee’s trust in him is undaunted and for reasons he can’t define himself, he cannot let her down. Their survival becomes a game where they must determine who they can trust, because a misstep could mean death as well as the loss of hope for all of mankind.
This is not an easy movie to watch. It pries open prejudices that none of us want to believe we have. It points out the fragility of human life. And it shows how easily we can slip from humane to something too horrible to imagine. Still, it is a movie that everyone should see, if just for those very reasons alone.
Alfonso Cuaron’s and Timothy J. Sexton’s screenplay is a bit difficult to follow from time to time. However, I suspect that might have more to do with scenes that had to be deleted from the original cut rather than the actual screenplay itself. I think it could have been even more powerful, given a little more length. However, the truth is that today’s audiences lose interest when a film heads beyond two hours in time.
Still, this is a strong piece of work; haunting and memorable. Probably made more so, by Cuaron’s strong direction. He pulled no punches, glossed over no scenes, and made no apologies. Instead, he delivered a gut wrenching punch into the center of all we as human beings hold dear.
Clive Owen as Theo was credible enough. I do think that there might have been other actors with much more to bring to the roll. I felt his characterization was too “one note” in delivery with only subtle differences made when huge leaps were more of what was needed.
Julianne Moore as Julian was right on point. However, it’s a pity that her part was so small in the overall scheme of the film. It could have benefited from her presence.
The brightest stars in the move remained with probably the youngest and oldest members of the cast. Michael Caine as Jasper Palmer was absolutely inspired. I haven’t seen the actor shine that brightly in a role in quite a while. He was mesmerizing to watch. And Claire-Hope Ashitey as Kee – – the would be mother of a whole new world, was positively luminous.
I honestly did not expect to like this movie. I, as a rule, don’t care for dark, foreboding pieces of literature or film. However, this is a movie difficult to dislike because it teaches, it inspires, and it reminds that hope never dies
I have to give it four and one-quarter out of five stars. I’m deducting minor points for ineffectual use of Moore’s talents and more substantive ones for the casting of Owen in the lead. Again, not that he was bad; just that there many others who might have been much better.
The film was released to the big screen in early January and came out on DVD the first week of April. The DVD contains special features on:
The Possibility of Hope – a documentary on how the revolutionary themes of the movie relate to modern day;
Under Attack – an explanation of how the filmmakers taped the most dangerous scenes;
Comments by Slavoj Zizek;
The Inside Story of Theo and Julian; and
Futuristic Designs – from concept to creation.
“Children of Men” is a Universal Picture from Strike Entertainment in association with Hit and Run Productions. It is 109 minutes in length and rated R for strong language, violence, drug use, and brief nudity.