Children of Men
- Eddie Harrison
- 18 September 2006
It’s 2027, and various crises relating to immigration, terrorism and biological insecurities are just the minor symptoms of a larger problem facing mankind; no children have been born worldwide for nearly two decades.
When society’s youngest person, Baby Diego, is stabbed to death after refusing to sign an autograph, it appears that any hope for mankind’s continued survival on earth is forlorn. But as disaffected political activist Theo (Clive Owen) is recruited by old flame Julian (Julianne Moore) to escort two women out of Britain, he realises that his charges hold a fragile solution to the malaise gripping the planet.
In reworking of PD James’ novel for the 21st century, director Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) has played down the author’s religious allegory in favour of hard-hitting political immediacy, with Owen’s burnt out case seeking his redemption in the passive manner of a Graham Greene anti-hero. Deeper involvement is solicited through telling supporting performances from Michael Caine as a pot-smoking longhair, Danny Huston as a corporate minion and Peter Mullan as a deceitful jailer exploiting the innocents in a brutal, lawless immigration camp. Best of all, Mexican director Cuarón proves himself an ideal choice to bring his outsider’s eye to this nightmarish study of Britain as a war-zone, capturing jagged action in long, single takes for dramatic verisimilitude.
In the same spirit of 1970s forerunners The Omega Man and Soylent Green, Children of Men is a rare example of big budget sci-fi with intelligence and heart, and while its unflinching evocation of human nature gone wild may upset some, the film’s grim power is undeniable.