Children Of Men
reviewed by R. Miles Mendenhall
In the lobby, just after leaving the theater, I said with dark irony to a group of young men, "The Future." To which one of them replied, "The Future SUCKS!" We all laughed conspiratorially with our schadenfreude.
This is a very violent film. Not one that wallows in gore and guts but there is an urban warfare sequence at the end that could have taken place in Fallujah a couple of years ago. Clive Own plays the reluctant hero caught up in collapsing England after twenty years in which no woman has been able to conceive or give birth anywhere in the world.
This very smart movie explores exigencies of revolutionary strategy in which cold-hearted calculations replace empathy. It is both a metaphor for possible societal collapse as well as a graphic portrayal of the same. It is about prejudice, racism, exclusion, social striation, privilege and obliviousness to the suffering of others. At the end the magical power of innocence in an insane world is presented to us, this in a kind of cynic vs. optimist litmus test that I won't give away. The test being, "Do you think that could really happen in that situation? Or is it just a screenwriter's fantasy?"
Bonus points for spotting the late seventies, early eighties stadium rock album cover visual references in some of the early scenes. Danny Huston plays a decadent privileged character who has one of the best lines in the piece. He's made a career out of playing blasé elitist roles. And keep an eye on Owens's characters footwear options Michael Caine plays a old pothead hippy (is there any other kind?) who in many ways is the life of this cautionary nightmare.
Before I deter you from seeing this film, let me assure you that it is also about hope, heroism and presents a cautionary tale warning us that yes, it could happen again and we'd better figure out a way to prevent it before it does! If you consider yourself a freedom fighter, a humanitarian and someone who wants the future to be better than the past, this story is a good example of the possible consequences of failure. See it!