‘Children of Men’ irresistible new rental

Street terror Theo (Clive Owen) is an innocent bystander during a bomb attack. “‘Children of Men’ is excellently crafted,” said reviewer Melissa Treolo.

Melissa Treolo

If the film, “Children of Men,” was a book, it would be impossible to put down. “Children of Men” is based on P.D. James’ 1992 dystopian novel, written in the same nightmarish vein as more well-known works like Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and George Orwell’s “1984.” It is such a loose adaptation, however, it is best to think of the book and subsequent film as two separate pieces of fiction – the book having one storyline and its film version having quite another. Arguments might be made the film takes too much artistic license, but most viewers won’t care. “Children of Men” the movie is about as gripping as anything I’ve seen for a long time.

The film’s exposition is short and to the point. A caption reads the year is 2027. We follow main character Theo (Clive Own), an apathetic, disillusioned alcoholic, for a few seconds as he walks through a dismal British street on his way to work. He stops to get a coffee in a shop filled with people watching the latest tragic news on a small television set: “Baby Diego,” at 18 the youngest member of the human race, has just been killed. Theo, seemingly unfazed by this event, walks calmly out of the shop, stops for a moment on the street to peruse a paper and is almost blown to bits by a nearby bomb explosion.

It seems this is a typical day for those in 2027. No one has been able to bear children for years due to a worldwide infertility epidemic. This has led to another epidemic – that of worldwide fear for the unavoidable, and very soon, ending of our species and its accompanying feelings of hopelessness and despair that anything can be done about it. The world is a bleak one, with violence being an almost moment-to-moment occurrence. The goals of most have been narrowed down to one: to simply survive for as long as possible. An especially hard thing to do in these conditions, especially for illegal aliens (or “fugees” as they are referred to in the film) who are habitually hunted down and killed as soon as they make it into the country.

Fortunately, a ray of hope is on the horizon in the form of a woman named Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey). She is eight months pregnant – the only known pregnant woman in the world. She is a fugee and is being protected by the Fishes, a revolutionary group intent on gaining equal rights for Kee and other fugees like her. Theo is hired by the Fishes to escort Kee across the ocean and place her in the hands of the Human Project, a group devoted to ending infertility. Theo doesn’t even believe the Human Project exists, however the money is enough to make him agree to anything. His journey with Kee becomes much more than he bargained for but, along the way, Theo manages to replace his disillusionment with that thing as rare as children – hope.

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron (“Y tu mama tambien”), “Children of Men” might be as close to live theater as a film will ever get. Most of the film is made up of long shots with very few cuts. Scenes like a three-minute chase scene between Theo and the Fishes, where blood spattering is seen on the camera throughout, give the film an effective documentary feel. This storyline may not be real, but it sure feels like it.

“Children of Men” is excellently crafted and is enhanced by other performances from Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Though the film stands well enough on its own, the special features on the DVD will make this rental irresistible.