Children of Men

Visually, the dystopian streetscapes of Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men were apparently inspired by the film of A Clockwork Orange, but the newer film- based on PD James's novel of the same name - owes more to 1984. However, the film's world is so dark, so excitingly imagined and so brilliantly, unremittingly hideous that it comes across as a playful, almost-affectionate millenial homage to Orwell's grisly Oceania, rather than a straight revisit.    It's 2027, and humanity has been infertile for two decades. There are no children or babies. When the youngest person on earth, who has attained a perversely godlike status, is killed, hysteria breaks out and there are riots in the streets.   Like 1984's Winston Smith, Theo Faron is a depressed borderline-alcoholic civil servant with a predilection for female outlaws. In Theo's case, it's his ex-wife, a resistance fighter who crowbars her way back into his life and entrusts him with Kee, a young girl of African-British origin who is the only known pregnant woman on earth. As Theo, Clive Owen brings real flesh, blood and brooding sexuality to the role. It becomes clear that his fire isn't completely out as he shepherds Kee to safety with the help of his old friend Jasper Palmer, an aging hippie played by an almost unrecognisable Michael Caine who floats onto the screen in a haze of cannabis fumes and Roots Manuva, bringing a fierce, softer-edged and unguarded love to the desperate pair. Jasper also gives an important perspective on Theo’s former life, illuminating how he got to be the man he is. It becomes clear that Kee might not only be the saviour of humanity, but the only person alive who can give Theo back some of what he has lost.   The film is recognisably British, with Cuaron bringing a keen outsider's eye to the energies and absurdities of our culture, from its dubstep, classical and Radiohead soundtrack to the St Paul's and Fleet Street buildings and the characters' rare and prized pieces of art - Banksy's kissing cops, and Jasper's satirical cartoons (recognisably by Steve Bell). In 2005, during filming, the London bombings happened and some of this atrocity feeds into the final cut, reminding us of our urgent need to protect each other as this grimy, bloodstained, foul-mouthed Nativity stumbles towards its own Bethlehem.  


Atrocity, resistance, love, finding humanity in dark places

Loved the film and really loved this review. A great Empathy recommendation. 

Average: 5 (1 vote)
Alfonso Cuaron
Film Category: 
United Kingdom