Children of Men (DVD)


“Children of Men” is tough going but it’s more than worth it. It’s a masterful achievement that engages the mind and touches the heart.

Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Chiwetel Ejiofor

It seems inaccurate to refer to “Children of Men” as science fiction when this stunning, confronting film feels as if it’s ripped from today’s headlines.

Like the best speculative works of the genre, it puts only the slightest twist on current events and modern situations, giving us a glimpse at a scenario that comes across as increasingly probable.

And although it’s set two decades in the future, this story – both unbearably sad and heartbreakingly hopeful – could be easily be taking place in the world we currently inhabit.

That’s not exactly comforting, given that the world of “Children of Men” is suffused with fear, fury and violence. The gap between rich and poor has become a chasm. Illegal immigrants are demonised, brutalised and imprisoned.

And worst of all, a plague of infertility has swept the globe for unknown reasons- no child has been born in 18 years.

None of it seems to mean all that much to Theo (Clive Owen). A former activist, a past tragedy has led him to seek solace in a menial bureaucratic job, a cynical worldview and a bottle of whiskey.

But Theo is drawn back into the fray when he’s contacted by his ex-lover, Julian (Julianne Moore), who still crusades against the oppressive powers that be.

Persuaded by Julian to help a young woman named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) find safe passage out of the UK, Theo finds his task made all the more difficult – and all the more important – when Kee reveals that she is eight months pregnant.

And as the country begins to tear itself apart, with rebels and refugees taking up arms against the authorities, Theo and Kee find themselves caught in the middle of the carnage.

Based on a novel by P.D. James, “Children of Men” is one of the most bracing pieces of future-shock fiction to hit cinema screens in some time. It bears a nominal resemblance to V for Vendetta but has a grimy, gritty sense of authenticity that film lacked.

Gifted director Alfonso Cuaron, revealing yet another string to his bow after the sensuality of his modernised “Great Expectations”, the earthiness of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and the dark fantasy of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, creates a world where danger and hostility seem ever-present and hope seems to be fading away.

But he deftly counteracts the bleakness by revealing his characters’ capacity for decency, compassion, courage and nobility, even when the odds are stacked against them.

Cuaron’s also cluey enough to realise that all the cinematic mayhem a director can choreograph has little impact unless you care about the people in its midst.

So while the technical virtuosity of “Children of Men”’s action sequences is breathtaking (such as one long, unbroken take that follows Theo through an urban war zone), the investment the audience has made in the characters’ welfare is what really hits home.

Given this, Owen is magnificent – like many of Bogart’s heroes, Theo’s innate goodness is evident, despite his world-weary facade.

He’s well-teamed with Moore, who effortlessly conveys the kind of passion and intelligence that would inspire Theo to follow her lead. And Michael Caine as Theo’s best friend Jasper, an idealistic political cartoonist, continues his recent run of top-shelf performances.

“Children of Men” is tough going but it’s more than worth it. It’s a masterful achievement that engages the mind and touches the heart.

The DVD we were sent did not include extras – one of those ‘two films on one DVD’ deal – but there are extras on the DVD… or so we’re led to believe.

Rating :
Reviewer : Guy Davis