Children of Men

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childrenofmen.jpg

No children. No future. No hope.

2006

Genres:
Sci-Fi, Action, Drama, Dystopian

Starring:
Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejifor

Summary:
In 2027, the human race has become sterile for unknown reasons. All nations have crumbled under the hopelessness and resulting chaos and power struggles. Only Britain soldiers on, although under an authoritarian militaristic regime that is extremely hostile to outsiders, hunting them down and shipping them to encampments eerily similar to Nazi concentration camps. Rebel groups routinely detonate bombs and commit other terrorist acts in protest of Britain’s policy; they seem to provide a voice for change in the world.

The youngest person on Earth has just been murdered at age 18, and the entire world is in mourning. Theo Faron (Owen) views all of this through an apathetic haze, until his ex-wife (Moore) contacts him with an important mission and a chance to recapture his former activism. Her rebel organisation has found a miraculously pregnant woman named Kee (Ashitey), and Theo is asked to help transport her to safety. With the help of his eccentric old friend Jasper (Caine) and rebel leader Luke (Ejiofor), Theo travels across Britain with Kee, hoping to deliver her to the mysterious Human Project before her condition becomes known and undoubtedly used as a political tool.

Response:
I haven’t written a review on this site in at least three years. This movie was so good that I decided to break my dry spell.

The plot was relatively simple and extraordinarily dark. Obviously there are some parallels to The Handmaid’s Tale and other dystopian fiction, in that human fertility is in peril. This movie, however, is filled with even more despair… Let’s call it uber-dystopian. This actually makes the very few kernels of hope and humour shine from the bleakness.

The acting was quite good, with Clive Owen progressing nicely from expressionless apathy to caring protector. His character was also realistically resourceful, without resorting to superhero clichés or MacGyveresque fixes. Ashitey was solid as Kee. I found her character annoying at first (along with the midwife), but she grew on me throughout the movie with a nice blend of childlike innocence and humor in her decidedly adult world. Caine was simply wonderful as Jasper, and I don’t think I’ll ever see another movie that makes me get teary when someone says ‘Pull my finger’. And as always, Ejiofor was a pure class act, imbuing every word and action with quiet confidence. The only character that didn’t quite fit was Moore, not because her acting was bad, but just because she was miscast for the role. Anyway, her character really doesn’t have much screen time.

The gritty realism of this film is one of its huge strengths. From a technical perspective, the single-takes of the car chase scene and the battle at the end are filmaking masterpieces. The digital baby was an interesting choice, and I wonder if it was some deliberate attempt to maintain the hopelessness of a childless world. But perhaps it was just a safety conscious move- I've heard it's not the best thing for an infant to be carried by a running and stumbling actress through fake armageddon.

The movie is loosely adapted from the 1992 novel of the same name by P.D. James. I have not read this, but the film undoubtedly stands on its own two feet. It's a movie of hopelessness, and just when you think it can't get any bleaker, it crushes any last remaining spark of hope you may have been harboring. I know this doesn't exactly sound like a barrel of tickly monkey laughs, but this movie certainly makes you think and feel and wonder.

Point Blank:
This is probably not the best movie to watch when you're feeling a bit down, but it's one of my favorites and an absolute cracker of a sci-fi flick.