I Got You, Babe

“Children of Men” takes place twenty years from now when humans are infertile. It’s been 18 years since a baby’s been born. The days of the human race are numbered. (But hey, at least, there goes the problems of unwanted pregnancy and abortion). To make even matters worse, human sterility is causing political chaos in Britain. Illegal immigrants are rounded up in cages as if they were animals. The protagonist of the picture is Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a former activist who once bore an infant son with a woman named Julian (Julianne Moore). His baby sadly passed away, and soon, his relationship with Julian came to an end too. Decades later, Julian, now a terrorist leader, contacts Theo. She has a favor to ask: a Fiji woman (Claire-Hope Ashitey) needs legal transit papers. Can Theo deliver? Is this the birth of a new hero?

While the attention is buzzing around that “Babel” director, I think Alfonso Cuaron is the more accomplished director to emerge from Mexico. He has certainly outdone himself with this one. “Children of Men” is exemplary of bravado filmmaking. It takes a genius and a steady hand to create such a film immersed in precariousness. Cuaron’s gritty orchestration of chaos is simply masterful. As for the cinematography, Emmanuel Lubezki conceives the look of a plausible future, without being too distantly unfamiliar. The setting here is constantly volatile, where people drop dead like flies and dogs are inexplicably ubiquitous. The movie also offers the most impressive camera work of the year. “Children of Men” will be famous for its long and unbroken shots. It’s an achievement that requires flawless execution of an intricate choreography of actions. Plus, the effect of one camera POV gives you the feeling of being in the picture. “Children of Men” can join the ranks of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down” as films that superbly place the viewer in the middle of the action.

Clive Owen is, without a doubt, the actor to play the lead role. I like his approach when he’s in films like this. He’s always more than the standard action hero. He simply portrays an ideal definition of a man. If one has to look for the film’s weakness, the screenplay is a good spot to inspect. The story is fertile with ideas, but some are never fully conceived. I’m murky about the science of human infertility and the political pandemonium involving immigration issues. Maybe the plot was meant to be turbid. Maybe it’s another way for the viewer to be disoriented in the middle of the apocalyptic milieu. Well, murky or not, it’s clear that “Children of Men” is a profound progeny of the talents involved. I predict it’ll enthrall many generations to come.

Grade: A

Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Pam Ferris, and Danny Huston
Based on the novel by
P. D. James
Screenplay by
Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
Directed by
Alfonso Cuarón
Rated Rfor strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity