Children of Men, based on a book by PD James, is a film which is set in the not too distant future, 2027 to be precise. A future where humankind cannot reproduce, and no child has been born on the face of the planet for eighteen years, is absolutely gripping! It begins with an everyday scene of a man entering a coffee shop and buying a coffee to the sound of a news report telling of the murder of the youngest person on the planet, despair and grief is written large over the faces of everyone who hears the story, apart from the man buying the coffee. Humankind is facing its extinction, science has been able to solve the problem and homosapians are slowly dying out.
It is a world were the fugues aren’t a pop group, but the masses of refugees trying to get into Britain from countries were the decline in the population has caused untold hardships, they face uncompromising treatment from the authorities and are herded up into ghettos the size of towns were the rule of law is non existent. It is a world were everything is just different enough to be recognisable and yet disconcerting at the same time. There are some wonderful puns on advertising and culture which will be recognisable to most if not all and a real sense of this could be a possible future.
The basic plot is, smoldering Clive Owen who plays Theo and is the man buying the coffee, used to be an activist in the underground movement ‘The Fishes’. Now they want his help and he finds himself caught up in a plan to get a girl, who is a refugee, out of the country to the Human Project a mysterious and perhaps even mythical project which is trying to save humankind. I am reluctant to say more than that about the plot as I don’t want to spoil it for those who don’t know the story.
Michael Caine, as an aging hippie and ex political cartoonist, is superb as is Pam Ferris, as a member of ‘The Fishes’; together their characters add nuggets of information filling in the gaps about Theo and the world at just the right moments. The way the film is shot in long takes makes you feel as if you are watching the story unfold as it happens and compels you to want to know what happens next. A couple of times the story becomes a bit thin, in that characters act in ways which don’t quite fit them, but those blips are forgivable as they are made in the interests of the bigger story.
I couldn’t recommend this film higher and while this time it was hired, I plan to get my own copy and watch it again very soon!