CHILDREN OF MEN
In chaotic, oppressed, lawless and dangerous 2027 Britain, humans can no longer procreate. Britain, through strict martial law, is a teetering sanctuary of sorts and attracts refugees from around the world, who are herded and jailed. The species is dying. Former associate and lover to refugee rights activist Julian (Julieanne Moore), Theo (Clive Owen), no longer cares, but reluctantly agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to an offshore safe haven held by revolutionary forces. He obtains the essential transit papers allowing him to move Kee to a convenient location, but getting her there alive proves far harder, despite help from his old comrade in arms, Jasper (Michael Caine).
Review by Louise Keller:
Infertility and illegal immigration are the themes of Children of Men, a futuristic thriller set in Britain that presents a vision of a bleak life with little to look forward to. Why women are no longer able to conceive is not explained, but there is a sense of inevitability about life's demise. Military rule keeps order, immigrants are imprisoned in cages and street violence persists. The story is based on a novel by British mystery writer P.D. James, and director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter, Y tu mamá también) creates a disturbing reality that resonates with truths from life as we know it today. There is much about the film that is impressive, but ultimately we do not care enough about the characters, so our journey is a frustrating one.
The film's initial set up in ever-grey London is excellent, as is the establishment of the ultra bohemian residence tucked away in the countryside, where we meet Michael Caine's unforgettable hippie, replete with long white hair, John Lennon-glasses and a pot smoking habit. Clive Owen's everyman Theo is a man who has had life sucked out of him. He mechanically goes about his everyday routine and Owen as usual is an interesting protagonist. When he is confronted by his former lover Julian (Julianne Moore), the lack of chemistry between them makes it difficult to believe they were ever in a relationship.
When Theo discovers that Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), for whom he has acquired transit papers, is pregnant, he becomes her protector, shielding her from dodging bullets and guiding her through safe houses. We know little about Kee - she is simply the carrier - and there is no explanation as to how she was able to fall pregnant. The bleak landscape eventually swamps the characters and by the time Theo and Kee reach their destination, searching for 'Tomorrow', the symbolically named boat, our interest has waned.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A palpably oppressed and oppressive London, retro-familiar, conflicting post apocalyptic tribes facing a totalitarian Government and a single ray of hope for the future of mankind do not sound original. Indeed, these elements are not, but the notion of mankind suddenly becoming sterile is engaging. It's a concept that opens up opportunities for questions as to why and how this global phenomenon occurred. The film avoids this, concentrating instead on the warring factions, the fascist nature of military Government and the dismantled nature of society.
Imagine an England that has been swamped by migrants from around the world, its society destabilised, its systems broken. Where the backlash is a violent suppression of migrants, even if they are refugees. Sounds like tomorrow to me. All of this makes for engaging viewing, driven by strong characterisations from Clive Owen, Julianne Moore (with relatively little screen time), Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and a smallish role by Peter Mullen, the film trundles into and out of the more complex issues raised, as it serves up a feast of production design and action.
The mise en scene is always excellent, and the tension never lets up. Alfonso Cuarón gives it all he's got, but there is a confusing subplot about in-fighting between resistance groups and a lack of clarity about the central plot: the pregnant woman's baby is the centre of attention, when surely it's the fact that a woman has got pregnant by normal means that is the big news.
Yet the film is fascinating and compelling, thanks to great cinematic work by all concerned. It just doesn't quite make sense.
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CLIVE OWEN INTERVIEW
CHILDREN OF MEN (MA)
CAST: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Pam Ferris, Danny Houston, Peter Mullan, Oana Pellea, Jacek Koman
PRODUCER: Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, Hilary Shor, Iain Smith, Tony Smith
DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón
SCRIPT: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton (novel by P.D. James)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Emmanuel Lubezki
EDITOR: Alex Rodriguez
MUSIC: John Tavener
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jim Clay, Geoffrey Kirkland
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 19, 2006