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Film

The future, not so perfect

Children of Men, set in 2027, depicts a desperate world where time is running out.

By Steve Persall
Published January 4, 2007


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Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men can be easily described as The Nativity Story with bazookas. The world in 2027, which desperately seeks a savior, has an inexplicable pregnancy that may provide one and warring forces that try to prevent or preserve that salvation.

This future is so grim, you'd better wear body armor.

Cuaron and his production designers create a society wracked by political strife and despair, the result of a mysterious infertility that ended population growth. The movie begins with the death of the youngest person in the world, an 18-year-old male. That causes an outpouring of grief on the level of Princess Diana's passing.

Things were already depressing. News reports inform us that England is the only nation still - just barely - keeping social upheaval in check. Problems in other countries caused massive immigration, and few newcomers are friendly. Terrorists calling themselves "Fishes" protest deportation efforts with bombs. The government responds by taking uncivil liberties with human rights.

Clive Owen plays Theo Faron, a former political activist who became a bureaucrat rather than fight. He is kidnapped by Fishes and reunited with former lover Julian Taylor Julianne Moore, who is leading the insurgency. She needs someone like Theo who understands the struggle yet isn't suspected for a crucial mission: An illegal immigrant named Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) has somehow become pregnant and must be protected.

The idea that hope springs from someone the government wouldn't want celebrated is the grandest irony in Children of Men, and one of the few Cuaron emphasizes. This script - with five contributors adapting P.D. James' novel - doesn't convey the intricate polemics and allegories of V for Vendetta. Children of Men is a thoughtful shoot-'em-up adventure, and a good one.

Owen carries the antihero banner high, with a dour demeanor and a reluctance to get involved until bad guys strike too close to his heart. Moore makes solid use of her limited screen time. The standouts are Ashitey and venerable Michael Caine, decked out in a gray wig as a self-exiled political cartoonist who grows marijuana. Their characters are the only flesh-and-blood creations in a world of killers and victims.

Children of Men is relentlessly downbeat and violent, but worth inspecting. Let's hope it doesn't translate to the nightly news.

Steve Persall can be reached at (727) 893-8365 or persall@sptimes.com.

 

REVIEW

Children of Men

Grade: B

Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Peter Mullan

Screenplay: Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, based on the novel by P.D. James

Rating: R; strong violence, profanity, drug abuse, brief nudity

Running time: 109 min.

 

[Last modified January 3, 2007, 15:27:38]


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