Children of Men
Review by: Larry Thomas
Most people have an opinion of what the future might be like. Some of the most
imaginative among us manage to turn this vision into really good science fiction.
And the really good science fiction mirrors our own contemporary society in one
way or another.
Many of those sci-fi tales have a decidedly grim view of what may be anticipated
by future generations: Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451; Ridley
Scott's Blade Runner; Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork
Orange; Richard Fleischer's Soylent Green and Val Guest's
The day The Earth Caught Fire come immediately to mind.
And such is the case with the recently released Children Of Men; based
on the novel by P.D. James, and tipping it's cinematic cap in one way
or another to all of those films.
Children Of Men is set in the London of 2027. The youngest person
on Earth has just died at the age of nineteen. Most of the world's countries
have collapsed into chaos. England is on the verge of coming apart at the seams.
All women have been infertile for years. The immigrant population is being rounded
up, caged and deported. Or worse. And all under the watchful eye of "Homeland
Security." Masked gunmen are waging war in the streets against the military.
If these scenes sound familiar, yes, the film is as much contemporary allegory
as it is science fiction.
Into this bleak scenario comes news that there is one pregnant woman. She is
an African immigrant who doesn't stand a chance surviving the current
political regime. All the self-absorbed warring factions are consumed with using
her for their particular cause. Does the future of mankind, and by extension
planet Earth, rest with the survival of this one child to come?
Director Alfonso Cuaron, who has helmed films as varied as Y Tu Mama Tambien
and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, has created a film that
skillfully blends action, suspense, and, yes, even humanity into one entertaining,
beautifully filmed, well acted film. Not only is it thrilling, but also there's
much to ponder about what direction our planet is headed. While 2027 will probably
be no more like this film than 2001 turned out to be when viewed from 1968,
it's still intriguing to pose the often-asked question "what if…"
A particularly outstanding cast brings much to their roles. Clive Owen is a
disillusioned civil servant, who just goes through the motions of daily life.
He does have one bright spot however: an old friend named Jasper, a leftover
hippie who listens to sixties music and lives in a secluded area where he can
care for his invalid wife and grow marijuana. While the role isn't much
of a stretch for Michael Caine, it's always good to see a grand old pro
at his best. In the course of events, a gang of thugs unceremoniously kidnaps
Owen on behalf of his former wife, Julianne Moore. She wants to recruit him
to assist in getting the pregnant Kee to a group called "The Human Project."
Also along for the ride is Chiwetel Eijofor, the excellent British actor who
really doesn't have much to do, but like Caine, always manages to do it
well. There are also terrific supporting roles by an unrecognizable Danny Huston
(John's son), and Peter Mullan, as a corrupt immigration officer who always
refers to himself in the third person.
The terrific music is by British classical composer John Tavener, whose work
is evocative and moving. His original score, along with a couple of pieces by
Handel and Mahler, are on a separate CD from the one featuring covers of all
the great sixties tunes used in the film.
Most of the plot twists are fairly obvious, and like many ugly views of the
future, everything about Children Of Men has a dark, grimy look to
it. But despite this, it has elements of humanity and optimism that seem to
be missing from some of the other films. Is this child a miracle? Perhaps. Just
a small miracle. But don't most of us need just a small miracle now and