Words by Matt Poe
Children of Men (2006)
Poe’s Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (powerful, brilliant, all too real)
In a world where women have become infertile, a man tries to guide a pregnant woman to safety in the hopes of reviving a world that has become lost to war and despair.
Category: Drama, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity
Starring Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Chiwetl Ejiofor and Julianne Moore
Written by Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. Based on the novel by P.D. James. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Come one, come all because Poe’s Picks is back for another rousing edition. Notice anything different about the beginning of this blog? I’m sure you did; this is a smart audience. There’s no Netflix rating in the header for today’s film because it did not come from Netflix (cue the dramatic music).
In a shocking development in the world of Poe’s Picks, I’m happy to announce I have added films from HBO Go and HBO on Demand to our film library to expand what films I’m fortunate enough to bring you here. Fear not: Netflix movies will still be appearing on the blog because it is still (probably) the most popular platform for streaming movies.
But the addition of HBO and its streaming platforms opens up a whole new palate for films to share and I couldn’t be more excited. Our little blog is growing up right before our eyes and this expansion is the next step in ensuring Poe’s Picks can be enjoyed by an even wider audience. After all, we don’t discriminate against any streaming platforms!
Lastly, I just wanted to thank Netflix for being my first love in the world of streaming; baby, we had a beautiful run and I will always cherish the time we had together. I’ll always love you. As they say, you never forget your first. But now I’m living in the lap of luxury being fed grapes while I lie in my robe atop a golden throne and it’s all thanks to HBO Go and HBO on Demand.
“Children of Men” is a film I had been meaning to get around to for quite some time. One of my great friends (shout out to Cotton) had told me to see it for years and I figured now was a better time than ever for a film like this. Why? Let me explain.
The movie takes place in 2027 in a world being decimated by war, fascist regimes and a general cloud of bleak hopelessness that has engulfed our planet. Immigrants are being rounded up and taken into brutal detainment camps while militias run wild, sparking firefights amongst national armies and the aforementioned militias. All this shit seems pretty bad, right?
Well, it gets worse. We learn from the get-go that the youngest person in the world has died at the age of 18 after being murdered. How, dear reader, might the youngest person left on God’s good green earth be 18 years-old? That’s because women have mysteriously been dubbed infertile, leaving no hope to bear children and it’s basically driven everyone (rightfully so) absolutely mad.
This is the reality for all and for our protagonist Theo Faron (Owen), who spends his time like many in this world, deprived of any purpose or hope. He leaves a local coffee shop when an explosion goes off and he’s simultaneously held at gunpoint and kidnapped. We learn his former wife Julian (Moore) conducted the kidnapping in search of providing documentation for a young woman.
After reluctantly helping, yet unsure of Julian’s motives, Theo learns the woman Julian is helping is a young African woman who is pregnant, a divine miracle to the small inner circle who knows of her pregnancy. Their goal is to get her to safety in hopes that this child could bring forth a new generation of children. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
This movie lived up to its hype and then some. It’s pace is neither rushed nor too slow and the cinematography is extraordinary in evoking a sense of dystopian despair, with many shades of gray and dark brown radiating from the screen. Cuaron, who won the best director Oscar for 2013’s “Gravity”, proves here that he was no one trick pony with that film.
I loved the performances here and although there are some big names involved, no actor tries too hard to take the reins and that allows the film to breathe. Caine’s Jasper is especially great as a pot-smoking, wishful-thinking man who helps Theo in a variety of ways. It’s vintage Caine: subtle, sly, witty and touching. Same can certainly be said for our lead, Clive Owen, who I am still trying to figure out as an actor because in the right roles, he is magnetic and that’s evident here.
“Children of Men” should be mandatory viewing for any film lover right now. Rounding up immigrants, the possibility of impending war and a general bleak feeling about government? Why, that sounds like some of the shit happening today!
Is this type of film a glimpse into our future? I’m not ready to say that, but it does feel very plausible in so many respects *adjusts tinfoil hat and looks out window for UFO*. Still, I don’t think I’m alone in that line of thinking. I can’t recommend this movie any more. Its violence comes in spurts and when it does it’s very realistic, but the tension remains constant.
I think ultimately “Children of Men” is about hope, not that that is some groundbreaking revelation. It’s a vision into what this world could look like when we lose hope in our fellow man and the damning consequences it would impose.
Children remind us of that. They remind us of a tomorrow and for the desire to strive to leave the world in a better place for them than it was left for us. And while they can be loud, messy and sometimes annoying (man, I’ll be a great dad), there would be no hope without them.
Until Next Time.
In Good Movies We Trust,
Matt ‘Roger Ebert wishes he was half the film critic I am’ Poe