Children of Men

The outlook for humankind is bleak. At least that’s how many “serious” movies about the future view it. And even though the movie Children of Men takes this future-is-miserable attitude to a new level, it avoids being just another the-world-is-coming-to-an-end film though the subtle messages of hope and faith. Based on the P.D. James novel, the movie is set in 2027 England where we lean that women are infertile and the youngest person on the planet has died at 18. Since there are no babies being born and no one can figure out the cause of the world-wide infertility or how to solve the problem, society has disintegrated into lawlessness. England, we’re told, is the only country soldiering on – an island of stability in the midst of chaos. But even England isn’t immune to the problems. There are bombings from terrorist groups and everyone seems to go about their day without hope. People who are too miserable to live are encouraged to use state-sponsored suicide kits.

Clive Owen is superbly cast in the role of Theo Faron, a former political activist who is now a London office worker. He finds himself meeting up with his radical ex-girlfriend (a poorly cast Julianne Moore) who persuades him to help escort a refugee across the country. Halfway through their journey Theo discovers that the refugee is pregnant and only then does he realize the urgency of his mission. The hope and future of humanity might very well be in his hands. The question is whether or not he can hide the woman’s pregnancy from those who would either kill the baby or use it as a political tool.

Despite the gloomy and lonely feel to it, Children of Men is a story of hope. The real message of Children of Men is that people are assets. Without a reason to pass on a better future onto our children, mankind has no reason to keep their humanity and work to make the world a better place.

Director Alfonso Cuarón does an excellent job of portraying a world of 2027 that looks a lot like todays only with minor technological changes. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we’re not watching something on a Hollywood lot, this really is our world. Cuarón’s wise of handheld camera sequences gives the picture a news/documentary feel to it at adds to the film’s realism.

Only two complaints about the movie: first, there are a few scenes – such as the final need-to-save-the-woman-and-child sequence – that are almost too violent. I understood that the world is falling apart in the first 15 minutes. There’s no need to rub it into our faces. Second, it has some overtly political overtones to current social issues, such as the Iraq war, that is distracting and unnecessary and deter from the film’s central message of hope and redemption.

The Children of Men is gritty at times but does show how people need a reason better future to continue living. If you can stomach the violence and overall sad atmosphere of the film, there’s a rewarding message of hope and redemption interwoven amidst the depressing and sometimes very bloody background.

Abel's rating: B+