Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Premise: Twenty years from now women have lost the ability to reproduce. As a result the world is quickly descending into chaos. In the UK, Theodore (Clive Owen) must escort a pregnant woman (Claire-Hope Ashitey) across the violent countryside to safety while being pursued by the government and by rebels who want to use the baby for political purposes.
What Works: Children of Men manages to take a great premise and deliver on the story. The look and design of the picture is extraordinary. Future societies descending into chaos are nothing new, but in Children of Men, the filmmakers have fully realized their environment by using images that will be familiar to anyone who watches current affairs on the television news. The scenes of violence and warfare have been shot in a hand held style used in films like Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket but here the focus is on civilians within the war zone and the film captures the chaos of the war unlike anything seen recently. Theodore’s story, and the larger theme of the film, is one of a rediscovery of faith and hope. As a story of an apocalypse and a rebirth, the film lets the moments speak for themselves without a lot of grandiose cinematic effects; the film does not cue up highly emotional music and use intrusive camera techniques to herald the new beginning. The world in Children of Men ends and begins with a whimper, but this quiet visual style gives the film its power.
What Doesn’t: The conclusion is intentionally ambiguous but it leaves questions about the Human Project unanswered.
Bottom Line: Children of Men is an impressive accomplishment. The film’s message is ultimately optimistic, reaffirming faith in humanity by portraying us in our darkest hour.
Episode: #126 (January 14, 2007)