Why I should have seen it already:
My Dad watches this movie at least once a month. Also, everyone seems to be flabbergasted when I mention I haven’t seen it yet.
Now that I have:
Babies have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Since babies are the only thing in the world cute enough to keep people from killing each other, people start to kill each other! The whole world has fallen apart and Britain has become a totalitarian state with a firm anti-immigrant stance.
We meet Theo (Clive Owen), the only person who seems immune to the hypnotizing effects of babies and young people. He barely bats an eyelash when the youngest person in the world is killed while everyone else cries about the jerk dying. They don’t seem to mind the cages in the streets filled with sobbing elderly foreign people. Nope, those cages are just great. And the crying old people? Even GREATER. But a celebrity dying? Tears! Tears up to their ears!
Anywho, Theo’s life sucks. Fortunately he gets to hang out with Jasper (Michael Caine), his awesome hippie friend, in his awesome log cabin. Seriously, what a great cabin in the woods. It’s all board games and books and loud music and catatonic victims of government torture and happy dogs.
Later, Theo’s old flame (Julianne Moore) shows up. I’d give you her character’s name but she’s going to die pretty soon so why bother. She works with a group of poorly named rebels: The Fishes. She wants Theo’s help getting a girl across the border. Theo says no but then the next scene he’s in a pub going along with everything the Fishes say. Make note, in Britain “flat” means “apartment”, “lift” means “elevator”, and “no” means “yeah Ok”.
Theo meets the young woman who needs to get across the border, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), along with a woman way to old for dread locks (Pam Ferris) and everyone gets into the car. During the car ride stuff goes wrong. Then Theo’s ex-wife dies! (See? Told ya.)
Back at the Fishes’ base, Kee shows Theo her pregnant belly after talking about cow boobs. She tells Theo that his ex-wife told Kee only to trust him. So she trusts him. Like, right away. She puts all her faith in Theo when he learns the Fishes were behind the attack which killed his ex-wife and want to use Kee’s baby as a rallying symbol for a revolt. Theo and Kee and dreadlock lady BOOK IT.
It’s a very slow but very intense chase scene where Theo is pushing a car down a hill. It’s my favorite scene of the movie! The frustration and stress and silliness make this scene what escaping from the Fishes would really by like.
Later, it’s revealed whoever helps Kee is cursed to die. Jasper sets up a way to get her to The Human Project who are scientists trying to fix the world’s lack of babies. Then Jasper dies. Dreadlock lady helps Theo and Kee get to the bus to take them to the refugee camp where they’ll meet a contact. Then dreadlock lady dies off screen. A dude tries to take Kee and Theo to his personal boat after seeing the newborn baby. He gets shot in the head by the Fishes. Eventually every remaining character besides Theo and Kee are left in a city which is obliterated by bombs. At which time, Theo gets tired of all the rowing and bleeding he’s been doing and dies.
Then The Human Project comes! Sorta in the knick of time!
Dang, what a great movie. The atmosphere and the documentary-like steady cam shots made everything on screen feel actual and tangible. The camera is always present in the physical space without jostling around and making it hard to focus. Even when the film turns into an urban warfare action flick, the steady came never wobbles enough to make you lose your lunch.
The locales of Children of Men are these wonderfully mundane places with something wrong about them. For instance, Theo is walking through an abandoned and decaying elementary school, with crayon drawings still up on the walls, when a wild deer runs out of a classroom. The school could have easily been dark and dusty but we have seen that in zombie and apocalypse movies before. Keeping it brightly lit with sunshine and that dang deer popping up unnerved me more than echoy footsteps and shadows could.
The visual style is great too! Everything in the city, from the buildings to the people, is gray. But when the film goes to Jasper’s house it seems like the warmest dang place in the world. I cannot stress enough how much I’d like to live in Jasper’s house. Heck, I’d even force the straight-edger in me to tolerate Jasper’s pot growing/selling/smoking/talking about.
Children of Men‘s narrative is always moving forward. Even the lulls are there to deliver information which will pay off for the characters later. There is an extended scene where Jasper tells Kee and dreadlock lady about Theo’s deceased son. Later on, Theo instructs Kee on how to burp her daughter as he dies.
As for characters, Kee is pretty likable despite all the misery following her around. Jasper’s the best clearly, and his crooked-cop-friend-who-speaks-in-the-first-person, Syd, won my heart. Even after he is killed via a car battery to the face…
Theo’s a little bland though. You don’t really know much about him besides his past, and those details are never all that specific. He also really throws himself into the protection of Kee. You are never given a reason as to why he’d do this but the movie moves so quickly you don’t often have the chance to wonder.
This is a small complaint in regards to this awesome film though. It manages to be “intense” without being “gory”. So maybe one of these days my mom will watch it with my dad. (Probably not.)