Children of Men (2006)
“The last days of the human race.”
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Cast: Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Synopsis: In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.
Set in a near-future both recognisable and alien, Children of Men invites us into a world in despair, and a race on the brink of extinction. Amusingly, the world’s pre-occupation is with its youngest inhabitant, an eighteen-year-old, Baby Diego, who has had celebrity and fame thrust upon him by an accident of birth. Diego is the final link with the old world, the world in which humans were still capable of procreating, and his death triggers a deepening of the despair that has overwhelmed the world.
Children of Men is no laugh-fest, make no mistake, but neither is it the Important Film it also seems to believe itself to be. Adapted from an ordinary writer’s story, it just about manages to keep the viewer absorbed in its bleak vision even as it struggles to shape any real sense from its story. Out of despair comes hope, the world’s first pregnant woman for a generation. ‘Jesus Christ,’ says our hero, Theo (Clive Owen, giving probably the best performance of his career), when he first lays eyes upon her; ‘I’m a virgin’, Kee later jokes, when he asks her who the father is; even later a ship will emerge from the dense fog, its name, ‘Tomorrow,’ in clear white letters on its hull.
The cinematography is superlative, immersing the viewer in the terror and violence of a world that is quickly unravelling, and which resembles the European post-WWII wastelands. At one point, blood splatters the screen, jarring the view from the film but somehow managing to keep us in the world it is exploring. Despite this, while delivering some convincing scenes, the film fails to provide us with a consistent view of such a chilling future. The question of why the world’s population has become infertile is never satisfactorily explained, and the vision of the future we are given is curiously muddled, as if not clearly thought through. Similarly, the fact that a woman has now become pregnant is accepted without anyone questioning how this could have happened or what it means for the world’s future.