Children of Men

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Children of Men (2006)
I love a good concept film. Jim Carrey endowed with God's powers for a week? I'm intrigued. A serial killer who adopts the seven deadly sins as his MO? I'm there. The world has devolved into chaos because women have stopped having children? Just tell me where to sign up.

The last of those three is, of course, the premise behind Children of Men, a strikingly perceptive film that sometimes looks like it takes place in the aftermath of a massive nuclear war. It actually takes place in London in 2027. Fragments of a somewhat futuristic society (dazzling monitors and adverts punctuate almost every scene) contrast with the debris and violence. Without the investment in the future that children represent, our more destructive tendencies are going untamed, and society is beginning to collapse.

Clive Owen in Children of Men
Clive Owen plays Theo Faron, a former activist who apparently couldn't beat the government bureaucracy, and decided to join them instead. On the outside, Theo is aloof, unaffected, and sarcastic. But on the inside he, like the rest of the species, is waiting for something to awaken his hope and idealism. And one day, he finds it: a pregnant woman named Kee (played by the appropriately named Claire-Hope A****ey). He joins up with a group of people keen on overthrowing the establishment, and they begin an effort to deliver Kee to a group of scientists called The Human Project in hopes of finding a "cure" for mankind's infertility.

Amazingly, director Alfonso Cuarón has made a science fiction film about the downfall of society that doesn't include stale warnings of nuclear winter or artificial intelligence. The real danger, we are told, is within, a point which is emphasized through a surprising betrayal.

The film is surely a cautionary tale, but generally has the good sense to let us decide what it is we're being cautioned against. The infertility depicted in the film could represent any number of things. It could be a consequence of pollution, or punishment for a cavalier attitude towards the sanctity of life, or simply the natural result of humanity taking its status and abilities for granted. We're not given an explicit moral, though several clumsy attempts are made to shoehorn the issue of immigration into the proceedings. These are presumably emphasized in an attempt to make the film seem more relevant, but the themes here are so broad and timeless that zeroing in on this one issue steals some of the film's considerable elegance.

Most of the performances are sublime, from Owen's cynical Theo, to Michael Caine's ease and humor. A****ey is passable as the potential savior of all humanity, but seems like a bit of a caricature at times, perhaps because most of the people around her are deathly serious. The film goes to great lengths, however, to relieve the considerable tension (which is almost unbearable at times) with random moments of levity, every one of which rings true, no matter how irreverant.

Clive Owen and Claire-Hope A****ey in Children of Men
Surprisingly absent from the tale is the issue of religion. Most of the major characters spend the duration of the film trying to protect Kee from those who would senselessly harm her. The historical irony of us once again trying to protect a savior from the very people needing to be saved is apparently lost on them.

These flaws notwithstanding, Children of Men is a borderline masterpiece. It is technically brilliant and occasionally funny, but consistently poignant. For all the pessimism on the surface, the film is optimistic at its core. It depicts a world not without hope, but in which hope is dormant, waiting for a spark to ignite it again.
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A system of cells interlinked
Fantastic review... Was going to write one, myself, but this covers it.

Great job, Chris.
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In the Beginning...
Excellent review.


Here's one from the Washington Post that really hit me:


Future looks bleak but breathtaking
By Ann Hornaday
The Washington Post

"Children of Men" is the best movie of the year, and I'll stand on "Babel's" table at the Golden Globes in a pair of gift-bag Jimmy Choos and say that.

This audacious, sweeping, sobering and finally exhilarating film by Alfonso Cuaron ("Y Tu Mama Tambien") stars Clive Owen as a bureaucrat in 2027 London, the last outpost of the closest thing to civilization in a world gripped by pandemic infertility and a worldwide immigration crisis. When Owen's character, Theo, is pulled back into his activist past by his former lover, Julian (Julianne Moore), he embarks on an epic chase adventure in which the motivation is nothing less than the survival of the human race.

Adapting P.D. James' futuristic novel, Cuaron makes masterful use of cinematic grammar to create a story, a mood and an atmosphere that feel eerily contemporary. Recalling the most-bravura moments of Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick, Cuaron delivers two of the most-breathtaking sequences in movies this year (pay close attention to the car scene with five passengers traveling from London to a country farm, as well as the chase through a refugee camp).

With its bleak palette of British blues and grays and its mournful conclusion, "Children of Men" can't be described as a feel-good movie, except to people who care deeply about the future of filmmaking. They'll walk out of the theater on air.



i like the reviews of this movie... i just hope this movie wont happend in real life.



Lets put a smile on that block
I love apocalyptic Sci-Fi and this one delivered on all points for me. I loved the British setting as well. If you are a fan of the film, but still feel you want more answers, i highly reccommend the book by P.D James. Its not as ambiguous and written beautifully.

In regards to your discussion in the shout box with bobby B Sedai, i agree with you, i thought the ending was perfect. And we do have an answer to the babys fate as over the beginning of the credits you hear the sound of children laughing so that points to it being a success.

P.S Happy New Year Guys!
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NOT ACTUALLY BANNED
WARNING: "Saving Private Ryan, Sin City, and Field of Dreams" spoilers below
Look here guys, imagine if Saving Private Ryan ended the second they found him. Imagine if Sin City ended when Hartigan was shot on the dock. Imagine if Field of Dreams ended when he finished building the field and playing with Ray Liotta.


All I'm saying is that the ending felt so abrupt and if there was still more to be told.



Originally Posted by BobbyB
All I'm saying is that the ending felt so abrupt and if there was still more to be told.
All your examples are accurate, but they merely demonstrate that films can end abruptly; not that this one did. Going much further would have shifted the tone of the film considerably, in my mind.

WARNING: "Children of Men" spoilers below
The film is rather narrow. Though it spans England, we're only given glimpses of the rest of the world; a few quick flashes on a monitor, primarily. Other than that, the film goes to great lengths to make us feel claustrophobic. There are numerous points at which the film makes us feel cramped:
  1. Via an overhead shot in the first scene where Clive Owen squeezes by a crowd of people to buy his coffee.
  2. In the tiny, newspapered room Owen is brought to after he's abducted.
  3. In the two tiny cars he rides in, which the camera shows us largely from the inside, rather than the outside.
  4. Interior shots of two seperate buses.
  5. Shots of immigrants packed into cages.
  6. Locked inside the back of an armored vehicle.
  7. Walking through crowded, broken-down buildings and hallways.
  8. The tiny, sewer-like tunnel leading to the boat near the end.
Heck, even when they make their way to the ocean, which is the polar opposite of the crowded feelings we've been given throughout the film, it's covered in fog so that we can't see usually more than a few feet in any direction.

I think it's safe to say that creating the feeling of being trapped (in the same way English citizens are trapped within their own country) was important to Cuarón and the tone of the film. Showing us more of the world, or the headquarters of The Human Project, or any other such thing, would seriously undermine that.

Also, the overwhelming majority of the film is seen through the eyes of Theo. We see almost nothing that he does not also see. It makes sense, then, that we do not see anything after this death.

That's how I see it, at least.



Originally Posted by BobbyB
All I'm saying is that the ending felt so abrupt and if there was still more to be told.
Well, considering the story has been exclusively from the Theo character's (Clive Owen) point of view, what more is there to say? His important and heroic chapter in the fight for survival is complete. The ending is emotional, powerful and correct. Anything further would just be scientific gobbledygook and the kind of stuff the movie had intentionally avoided all along.

You want exposition, but there isn't any. I think it makes it a stronger movie, not a weaker one.


As a warning, sounds like you'll also want to avoid BladeRunner, The 400 Blows, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Thing (1982), Limbo, Once Upon A Time in America and any number of other great pieces of cinema that have open-ended finales.
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NOT ACTUALLY BANNED
Originally Posted by Holden Pike
Well, considering the story has been exclusively from the Theo character's (Clive Owen) point of view, what more is there to say? His important and heroic chapter in the fight for survival is complete. The ending is emotional, powerful and correct. Anything further would just be scientific gobbledygook and the kind of stuff the movie had intentionally avoided all along.

You want exposition, but there isn't any. I think it makes it a stronger movie, not a weaker one.


As a warning, sounds like you'll also want to avoid BladeRunner, The 400 Blows, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Thing (1982), Limbo, Once Upon A Time in America and any number of other great pieces of cinema that have open-ended finales.
I still adore the movie. It's not like the ending ruined it for me. I just felt like it ended a little earlier than I expected.

WARNING: "Children of Men" spoilers below
It was just a small complaint of mine that we have no idea about The Human Project, whether mankind is rescued, etc.



A system of cells interlinked
Originally Posted by BobbyB
I still adore the movie. It's not like the ending ruined it for me. I just felt like it ended a little earlier than I expected.

WARNING: "Children of Men" spoilers below
It was just a small complaint of mine that we have no idea about The Human Project, whether mankind is rescued, etc.

WARNING: "Children of Men" spoilers below
But we do have an idea, as the sound of Children playing filled the world once again after the screen went dark. A Brilliant, subtle ending.



NOT ACTUALLY BANNED
I just threw my review up in my review thread

Children of Men (Cuaron, 2007)


It's the year 2027. Human reproduction has come to a halt for the last 18 years and they youngest person on earth, Baby Diego, has just been murdered. But new hope arrives in the form of a young woman named Kee (Claire-Hope A****ey) and Theo (Clive Owen) a former political activist who's vapid working life has been rejuvenated by the discovery that Kee is pregnant.

This is the premise of Alfonso Cuaron's latest and greatest masterpiece.

Set in a somewhat futuristic and very violent London, we immediately get the feeling that we are viewing a world that is, at it's core, dead. Violence erupts all over the world all day every day and military personnel are constantly walking the streets of London.

News breaks that "Baby Diego" the youngest human on earth, was murdered after he refused to give an autograph.

While everyone else around him mourns, Theo seems to be unshaken by the news. He's accepted mankind's fate and looks at this as another domino being pushed over.

Theo is kidnapped by his former love interest Julian (Julianne Moore) in an attempt to lure him back to the activist life. We get the sense that she has something very important, but does not reveal to him what it is.

Through a series of unfortunate events, Theo meets Kee, discovers that she is pregnant and is now roped into trying to get her to a sanctuary at sea where she can give birth and scientists can examine Kee and her child and try and figure out a solution to the reproduction problem.

Cuaron is a master storyteller. The filming is some of the greatest I have ever seen and it's a shame that this movie has gotten zero Oscar buzz.

Clive Owen is his normal brilliant self and everyone else around him is good. Not great, but they do their work and they do it effectively.

Children of Men is simply one of the best films I have ever seen. I feel like the ending was a bit abrupt, but it's not an ending that would ruin what I would say is one of the best films of the 21st Century.

9/10



Thanks for the great review Yods The theme reminded me of "The Handmaid's Tale" even though not a great movie, it was the theme of world infertility, that sucked me in so I think I am going to like this one
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Lets put a smile on that block
Originally Posted by BobbyB
I still adore the movie. It's not like the ending ruined it for me. I just felt like it ended a little earlier than I expected.

WARNING: "Children of Men" spoilers below
It was just a small complaint of mine that we have no idea about The Human Project, whether mankind is rescued, etc.
WARNING: "Children of Men" spoilers below
But that is the purpose of the Human Project. Throughout the whole film they question whether the organisation would even exist. They have hardly any direction to go in and no communication with them. All they have is the faith that the Human Project exists and will be there at the right time. And the fact that the child is born a girl, we see the ship turn up and hear the laughter of children...i think thats all we really need to know.


This film has only just been released in the States hasnt it? It's strange. This film was released over here in the summer. Should be available on DVD soon i expect.



Originally Posted by Yoda
Children of Men (2006)
I love a good concept film. Jim Carrey endowed with God's powers for a week? I'm intrigued. A serial killer who adopts the seven deadly sins as his MO? I'm there. The world has devolved into chaos because women have stopped having children? Just tell me where to sign up.

The last of those three is, of course, the premise behind Children of Men, a strikingly perceptive film that sometimes looks like it takes place in the aftermath of a massive nuclear war. It actually takes place in London in 2027. Fragments of a somewhat futuristic society (dazzling monitors and adverts punctuate almost every scene) contrast with the debris and violence. ...
These flaws notwithstanding, Children of Men is a borderline masterpiece. It is technically brilliant and occasionally funny, but consistently poignant. For all the pessimism on the surface, the film is optimistic at its core. It depicts a world not without hope, but in which hope is dormant, waiting for a spark to ignite it again.
Wonderful review! I loved this movie, too. It was so very different, and yet done with such confidence. What I mean is: I could feel the writer/director/actors' confidence in the story and the way it was being presented. It was a totally great find for me, because I just stumbled into the theatre one day and decided to catch a flick, any flick, and Children of Men was the movie with the most convenient start time.

WARNING: "Children of Men" spoilers below
Personally, I thought the ending was inspired. It seemed to me that the movie was about the changing of eras, so it made sense for the movie to end with the start of the new (baby-filled) era.



A system of cells interlinked
Ok Yods... I want to stick this review for the sidebar, but you didn't rate the film! I know you are new here and stuff, but, get with it!


For now I am going to just give it a 4.5, as that seems about where you would place it....



fry
Fry The Movie Freak
You hit the nail on the head. Entertaining movie, get the message, but one I would not buy on DVD or go see again.

If anything this movie pushed me closer to becoming a Clive Owen fan.



A system of cells interlinked
Originally Posted by fry
You hit the nail on the head. Entertaining movie, get the message, but one I would not buy on DVD or go see again.

If anything this movie pushed me closer to becoming a Clive Owen fan.
Who hit the nail on the head? Hit the reply button to quote the person you are responding to.