Children of Men - Movie Review
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Children of Men is a science-fiction dystopian film based on the novel the Children of Men by PD James and is set in 2027 during a biological crisis spanning nearly two decades in which mankind has become infertile, and human existence is facing extinction. When bureaucrat and cynic Theo is kidnapped by his estranged wife Julian, a member of the militant resistance group the Fishes, he is propositioned with the job of transporting a young female to the coast of south-east England in hopes to get her aboard a vessel named 'Tomorrow'. And this is where this paragraph ends.
I was not previously familiar with this novel; a friend had returned from a trip to France and said he and his girlfriend saw it and mentioned that he liked it. The title stuck with me, and I looked up the trailer the following day.
Later that night, I went to see it after work and left the theatre feeling like I really, really needed a hug, as I have never needed a hug in my entire life.
This film is one of the most powerful works of visual storytelling in terms of emotional provocation that I have ever encountered. I'm not going to lie, I cried at least three times during this movie. It builds you up, amidst the dismal, bleak setting, to jovial, cheerful laughter, in a sweet, endearing moment right before it shoots you in the fucking face. It plants a soft, sweet kiss on your cheek only seconds before wrapping warm arms around you and then shovels your insides onto the floor while you watch in horror.
I left the theatre after seeing this dystopian masterpiece feeling 100% emotionally drained. It was THAT evocative. I recall, very distinctly, arriving at a friend's house after seeing Children of Men, being asked about the film, and to get to the point- within the next week they had gone to see it and walked out of the theatre with the same feeling. Or, lack thereof. Sure, superficially this sounds like a depressing flick, but it is absolutely in every regard the opposite. It takes a terrifying plot like human infertility and the fatalistic endgame within noticeable distance and yet manages to pound insanely poignant spikes of hopefulness into approaching despair.
While this film lists nearly a half-dozen screenwriting credits, including Clive Owen (unaccredited), this doesn't fall into 'too many hands in the pot' territory with screenwriting. It's tense like a noose, and it's pacing is exemplary. This film also is aces in one of my favourite film practices- the long shot. There are more than a few long shots in this film, jam-packed with great practical VFX and stunt work, including one particular scene near the end, that is easily one of the most powerful scenes I have ever seen in film.
I haven't read the book, so I can't say much in terms of discrepancies between the film adaptation and source material, but I loved this movie. It was an insanely intense dystopian emotional rollercoaster with a very original plot, and I highly recommend it if you like the dystopic side of sci-fi, because this is it at it's best.
Check out the trailer for Children of Men.