Monday, January 08, 2007

Children of Men (Movie Review)

If you think this movie looks dark or depressing... you're right. On both counts.

But it also happens to be thought-provoking, well-intended and well-crafted.

In short: it's hard to not be pulled into the story line, even as various plot-holes emerge.

That is to say, this movie isn't without flaws. But they're not the sort of informational gaps that have rendered a great many science fiction films laughable, and altogether implausible, in my eyes (see: Serenity). Rather, any concerns I had weren't crippling; just... moderately distracting. I walked away with questions brought upon not so much by the ending, but rather the events that led up the story's inciting action.

As is often the case with any new film, I didn't know too much about Children until I walked in to see it. I knew it was a dark piece of science fiction that takes place in the not-so-distant future.

Here's some more information that may prove useful without spoiling the viewing experience: it takes place in the UK in 2027, but relays the events of 2009 onward. In 2009, the last human baby is born, as women worldwide inexplicably battle infertility. Clive Owen stars as an ordinary Joe who used to be a political activist. Julianne Moore and Michael Caine co-star as members of Owen's circle of friends. And, yes, they were once activists too.

As you might expect, the inability to conceive has resulted in a bit of an existential crisis that takes man's fear of death to an entirely new level. It's no longer limitations of a single lifetime that force man to (in-) action, but rather the fear of humanity's imminent collapse that results in transnational chaos. Violence erupts, and with it religious fanaticism. Parallel to this is Britain's battle with illegal immigration, as people flock to this "stable" empire after the collapse of their own.

I'll leave it at that, except to say this dynamic adds a bit of a philosophical slant to the movie. Unfortunately, this philosophical undertone (with its notions of existence and sterility, among others) takes the backseat to the film's more blatant political statement regarding immigration. I find this to be unfortunate insofar as Children thereby fails to reach its full potential.

And, naturally, in order to want man to survive this "procreative" snafu, you've got to find the main players likeable. They are, and I do. In fact, the scenes involving Owen, Caine and/or Moore are some of the film's warmest, offering respite (for Owen and the audience alike) from underlying anxiety. Kudos, too, to big screen newcomer, Claire-Hope Ashitey.



Winter said...

I'm going to see this movie today when I get off work.. I didn't realize that Caine was in this movie, he wasn't anywhere in the previews that I saw..

Handful Of Hell said...

I am not sure if this will hold good in the recent future, but if peoples' aversion towards procreation continues the way it currently is, especially in Japan and many European countries, I don't see why evolution shant play to our peril.

I wonder if this theory could also be speculatively applied to the giant beasts of the lost era. Perhaps, they simply didn't want to extend their strand any more!!

Anonymous said...

I think I remember you reviewing little miss sunshine some time back - watched it last night. it was great. hadn't laughed like that in a long time. I think I remember you saying that it didn't quiet cut the mustard for you. my mustard is the sea of reeds. later.


p.s. - been digging your posts of late - would like to add more on and more frequently, but am sadly short on wit. it's a new year drag sort of thing. slow and slow.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

winter - let me know when you see it. i'm curious to see/hear what others think.

handful - good point! perhaps the dinos were tired of that whole "existence" thing.

ds - glad you've enjoyed the reads. i still say it'll be a fine day when you start one of these blogger thingies. also, i dug "sunshine" all right. the supposedly "hilarious" ending annoyed me a bit, but otherwise i thought it was a fine film.