Children of Men has proven so popular with crowds and critics, that more than one reviewer has been moved to defend it against claims that it is—- gasp– science-fiction. Of course it’s SF of a familiar kind, and very well-made.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Alfonso Cuarón.

Writors: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, et al, based on a novel by P.D. James.

Cast:

Clive Owen as Theodore Faron
Claire-Hope Ashitey as Kee
Pam Ferris as Miriam
Julianne Moore as Julian Taylor
Chiwetel Ejiorfor as Luke
Peter Mullan as Sid
Charlie Hunnam as Patric
Michael Caine as Jasper Palmer

Premise:

Societies collapse twenty years from now, in a future where no children have been born for eighteen years. England, now a police state, is one of the few countries that has survived the crisis, though at a significant price. An English rebel organization taps Theodore Faron, a government worker, to assist in the transporation of a woman who is pregnant.

High Point:

The movie uses well-composed images effectively, without forgetting that the images in a movie should tell an actual story and reveal plausible character, and not just be a series of pretty, or even disturbing, pictures (Lucas! You paying attention?). The scene in the empty schoolhouse ranks as one of my favourite smaller moments in the film, and it leads nicely to the first appearance of Sid. The final sequences in the refugee camp have a certain power and headline realism.

Low Point:

The film holds together, and yet I couldn’t help but wonder about Faron’s reasoning. Kee carries the hope for humanity and the single biggest bargaining chip on the planet. Faron was willing to go public even knowing that he was wanted by the law, which (given his position) suggests that the British government’s power is not total. He has learned that he cannot trust the rebels who warned him against going public. He knows nothing about the Human Project; trusting them, trusting that they even exist, is an act of faith. Surely, with his enemies in pursuit, he might have considered options other than charging into a squalid refugee camp on the brink of war in the hopes of finding an organization that may or may not exist.

The Scores:

Originality: Many of the images come from the stockpile created by generations of war footage and dystopic works. The film itself loosely adapts an existing novel, and the basic premise has been handled elsewhere: an old Twilight Zone episode, for one example. It has been handled effectively, however. 3/6.

Story: Children of Men should hold your attention. Some key elements remain unexplained. Given that we know we can trust neither the government nor the rebels, I’m a little unclear why we should place so much hope in the enigmatic Human Project. 5/6

Effects: The film includes outstanding sequences of urban battles, and the violence looks very real. 6/6

Acting: The film features exceptional acting; I was even willing to accept Michael Caine’s somewhat contrived character on the strength of his performance. The leads prove convincing, and Peter Mullans makes a lasting impression in the minor, memorable role of Sid. 6/6

Production: 6/6.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The film includes shots which will haunt the viewer; at times you may be too conscious of being manipulated.

Overall: 6/6.

Children of Men receives a total score of 37/42